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Studies investigating motivations for listening to sad music typically report claims by listeners that an improved mood is amongst the primary reasons for listening to sad music (Saarikallio, 2008). But, evidence shows that moods generally decrease when we listen to sad music (Saarikallio & Erkkilä, 2007). However, sad music can also bring about some psychological benefits. People with high tendencies towards reflectiveness may find that sad music can be used as a tool for processing their negative emotions resulting in an overall improvement in mood (Garrido & Schubert, 2013; Trapnell & Campbell, 1999). Sample consisted of 50 participants of college students from classrooms and social media. The survey asked a sample of college students to measure their moods before and after listening to a sad piece of self selected music. Trapnell and Campbell’s Rumination Reflection Questionnaire (1999) measured whether participants were ruminators. Additionally students were asked about their perception of psychological benefits of listening to sad music when experiencing negative emotions. It was found that people had a decrease in positive emotion after listening to their selected song. However, there was no change in participants' negative emotions after listening to their song. Ruminators did not experience more or less change than non-ruminators after listening to the sad music. Participants who felt more positive emotion before listening to the song felt less negative emotion after listening to the song.



Faculty Advisor

Veronica Fruiht, PhD

Publication Date



San Rafael, CA


rumination, mood, music listening



The Effects of Sad Music on Mood

Included in

Psychology Commons