Whenever I’m feeling stressed or down, I put on my favorite music, making everything a little bit better, but nothing beats jamming out to your favorite playlist with your best friends or teammates. Music can have many effects on people, but as I ran into my friends dorm room this weekend and we all began jamming out to our favorite song, I began to realize that listening to music with friends has a much stronger impact on me than just putting in my headphones. Then I thought back to high school volleyball, and how important our pre-game warm up playlist always was to our team, because it helped us all destress and get ourselves ready for the game. None of us ever listened to music on our own because we believed it helped us more to all jam together. After making these connections, I wondered if the effects of music on our moods depends on the social environment that we are in. My hypothesis is that being in a social context with friends or teammates that you enjoy spending time with will increase the effects of music on increasing your mood and decreasing stress.
In this study done in Germany at the Phillips University of Marburg published earlier this year, scientists are testing how a social environment can improve the already beneficial effects of music. Here, the null hypothesis would be that listening to music in the context of other people does not increase the decrease in stress provided by music, and the alternative hypothesis would be that listening to music in the context of other people does increase the decrease in stress provided by music. Although the scientists told the participants what to do, there was not a control group and participants were simply recording how they felt, making this an observational study. Participants listened to music in thirty minute intervals five times a day and answered multiple questions following it. They continue this process for a week and then the researchers looked at the results.
From this study, the scientists were able to draw the conclusion that listening to music with other people and listening to music for the sole reason of relaxation both had the same effects on decreasing stress levels, which goes against my initial hypothesis. However, if the participant was just listening to music to listen to music and not for the reason of reducing stress, then listening to the music with a group of people actually decreases stress levels more than listening to music alone. Although this study conditionally goes against my hypothesis, this study was only done with 53 people, which is not a very large sample size, and it does not specify if these people were randomly chosen or if they were all from the same group of people, meaning it could not be generalized to other age groups and cultures.
In order to draw conclusions about this study across the board for everyone, researchers would need to conduct many more studies, using more people from a more randomized sample in order to create a meta-analysis incorporating all of their findings and coming to a conclusion that can be agreed upon.
Until more research is completed, I will still continue to listen to music and jam out with my friends because it always puts me in an awesome mood even on my worst days. For all of you who enjoy listening to music to reduce stress, I suggest you try it too because I have always had great results from it! Even though there is not enough research to support this hypothesis now, the more healthy social environments you put yourself into, the better chance that you will be smiling and laughing with friends, so go ahead and jam out with them too instead of plugging in your headphones!