Presentation Title

Why People Listen to Sad Music: An Age Group Comparison

Start Date

April 2020

End Date

April 2020

Major Field of Study

Psychology

Student Type

Undergraduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Ian S. Madfes, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

In daily life, people choose to engage with some emotional stimuli and disengage from others. One might turn on a sad drama to augment feelings of sadness or watch a comedy show to maintain positive feelings. But why would anyone ever choose continued sadness?

Some people listen to music to shift their mood, while others do so to alleviate feelings of depression, unhappiness, or emotional discomfort. For some, music may be calming and helps to reduce anxiety and pain, rather than any desire to increase or maintain sad feelings. Sad music is also considered to be a vehicle to reminisce, reflect on ideas conveyed by the lyrics, and release emotions to feel better afterwards. These finding suggest that when a person is experiencing sad emotions, they are more likely to choose sad music, not only for comfort or companionship, but also its calming effects and how it can alter their mood, bringing pleasure to the listener.

This study evaluated the responses of 141 online participants, who provided reasons for why they do or do not listen to sad music. Chi-Square Analyses showed significant differences in reasons based on the the age of the listener. Younger respondents (18-24) listen to sad music because significantly more often and because it connects them with past or present feelings and experiences; this was not true for the middle age (25-64) or older (65+) listeners. Groups did not differ on desire to feel sad from listening or how they responded to the aesthetic qualities of the songs.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 22nd, 10:00 AM Apr 22nd, 8:00 PM

Why People Listen to Sad Music: An Age Group Comparison

In daily life, people choose to engage with some emotional stimuli and disengage from others. One might turn on a sad drama to augment feelings of sadness or watch a comedy show to maintain positive feelings. But why would anyone ever choose continued sadness?

Some people listen to music to shift their mood, while others do so to alleviate feelings of depression, unhappiness, or emotional discomfort. For some, music may be calming and helps to reduce anxiety and pain, rather than any desire to increase or maintain sad feelings. Sad music is also considered to be a vehicle to reminisce, reflect on ideas conveyed by the lyrics, and release emotions to feel better afterwards. These finding suggest that when a person is experiencing sad emotions, they are more likely to choose sad music, not only for comfort or companionship, but also its calming effects and how it can alter their mood, bringing pleasure to the listener.

This study evaluated the responses of 141 online participants, who provided reasons for why they do or do not listen to sad music. Chi-Square Analyses showed significant differences in reasons based on the the age of the listener. Younger respondents (18-24) listen to sad music because significantly more often and because it connects them with past or present feelings and experiences; this was not true for the middle age (25-64) or older (65+) listeners. Groups did not differ on desire to feel sad from listening or how they responded to the aesthetic qualities of the songs.