Have you ever wondered why music can affect your mood? A mournful tune can move us to tears moments after we were happy and not sad at all, or an upbeat tune can pop the gloomy balloon around us and make us feel more cheerful than before. Well, perception is nine tenths of reality and, when it comes to our emotions, the songs we listen to can actually prove to alter our perception of emotions.
Research Shows That Music Changes Perception
A study conducted at the University of Groningen in Netherlands indicates that music cannot only affect your mood and present state of mind, but the songs you listen to can also change the way you perceive emotions and the world around you.
Researcher Jacob Jolij and student Maaike Meurs, from the psychology department, did a study that showed that when people are listening to happy tunes, not only do they feel happier, but they also see happier faces around them, in general. And the opposite is also true – if the songs you listen to are making you gloomy, you are more likely to perceive sadder faces around you too!
The Science Behind The Study
43 young adults were asked to look at computer screens and go through a visual stimuli perception test. Faint happy or sad faces were shown in picture format over a noisy, gray background, one at a time. Each subject had to listen to 15 minutes of music they considered sad, and 15 minutes of music they considered to be happy. While they were identifying the happy or sad faces, they listened to music, both happy and sad.
Researchers found that when the test subjects were listening to happy songs, they not only spotted the happier faces with ease, but sometimes also spotted happy faces even when there were none. And when the test subjects listened to sad music, they spotted the sad faces much faster and, yet again, saw sad faces even if they weren’t any on that picture.
Many false positives were spotted this way, which proved that we tend to see the world as per the emotional state we are in. If we are happy, we view the world with rose-tinted glasses, and if we are sad, the glasses turn blue too.
The Songs You Listen To
The study concluded that what you saw was in line with your mood, which, in turn, was affected by the songs you listen to. People who listened to happy tunes were in a happier frame of mind and tended to spot happiness around them too while people who listened to the blues were likely to be in a gloomy mood, and tended to spot the sadness around them faster.
And yet, it’s been discovered that there are times when we crave sad music and listening to those tearjerker songs hurts. Apparently, songs that pull at our heart strings when we’re sad contain a musical device called appoggiatura, which is an ornamental note that clashes with the melody to create discord. This discord creates tension in the listener and, when this discord is resolves in further passages, the tension dissolves and the listener feels better.
The Takeaway From Music
So, the next time you choose a playlist, choose one carefully, because your playlist can make you feel on top of the world, or like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. When in doubt, choose happy songs when it comes to the songs you gravitate to!
|||^||Science Daily: Music changes perception, research shows|
|||^||Scientific American: Music can change the way we see the world|
|||^||Science Alert: Here’s why listening to sad songs makes you feel better|
|||^||The Wall Street Journal: Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker|
|||^||UpVenue: Top 65 Happy Songs That Will Make You Smile Playlist|