'Beautiful but sad' music can help people feel better

New research from psychologists at the universities of Kent and Limerick has found that music that is felt to be 'beautiful but sad' can help people feel better when they're feeling blue.

The research investigated the effects of what the researchers described as Self-Identified Sad Music (SISM) on people's moods, paying particular attention to their reasons for choosing a particular when they were experiencing sadness - and the effect it had on them.

The study identified a number of motives for sad people to select a particular piece of music they perceive as 'sad', but found that in some cases their goal in listening is not necessarily to enhance mood. In fact, choosing music identified as 'beautiful' was the only strategy that directly predicted mood enhancement, the researchers found.

In the research, 220 people were asked to recall an adverse emotional event they had experienced, and the music they listened to afterwards which they felt portrayed sadness. It followed earlier research from the same team that identified that people do choose to listen to sad music when they're feeling sad.

Dr Annemieke van den Tol, Lecturer in Social Psychology at Kent's School of Psychology, explained that the study found that among the factors influencing music choice were its memory triggers for a particular event or time; its perceived high aesthetic value - which involves selecting music that the person considers to be beautiful; and music that conveys a particular message.

She said: 'We found in our research that people's music choice is linked to the individual's own expectations for listening to music and its effects on them.

'The results showed that if an individual has intended to achieve mood enhancement through listening to 'sad' music, this was in fact often achieved by first thinking about their situation or being distracted, rather than directly through listening to the music chosen.

'Indeed, where respondents indicated they had chosen music with the intention of triggering memories, this had a negative impact on creating a better mood.

'The only selection strategy that was found to directly predict mood enhancement was where the was perceived by the listener to have high aesthetic value.'

More information: The research, titled Listening to sad music in adverse situations: How music selection strategies relate to self-regulatory goals, listening effects and mood enhancement is published in the Psychology of Music.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why do we enjoy listening to sad music?

Jul 11, 2013

Sad music might actually evoke positive emotions reveals a new study by Japanese researchers published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology. The findings help to explain why people enjoy listening to sad mu ...

Music through sport – jymmin improves your mood

Jan 09, 2014

Working out and making music at the same time – scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig retrofitted conventional fitness machines to produce music during ...

Music choice reflects mood

Jun 08, 2012

(Phys.org) -- What kind of music are you in the mood for? A new smartphone app designed to recommend music according to how listeners feel could provide insight into teen mental health.

Recommended for you

Toddlers copy their peers to fit in, but apes don't

16 hours ago

From the playground to the board room, people often follow, or conform, to the behavior of those around them as a way of fitting in. New research shows that this behavioral conformity appears early in human ...

Sadness lasts longer than other emotions

17 hours ago

Why is it that you can feel sad up to 240 times longer than you do feeling ashamed, surprised, irritated or even bored? It's because sadness often goes hand in hand with events of greater impact such as death ...

Can parents make their kids smarter?

17 hours ago

Reading bedtime stories, engaging in conversation and eating nightly dinners together are all positive ways in which parents interact with their children, but according to new research, none of these actions ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
not rated yet Feb 19, 2014
http://www.youtub...PQm06g2c

Song starts at the 1:00 mark.
Sinister1812
not rated yet Feb 19, 2014
This is true. Sad music can be a lifesaver!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.