For as long as I can remember, music has always been my coping mechanism during stressful times. It is the only thing that I know I can rely to automatically turn my mood around. There is a song for every occasion and every mood, so it never fails to brighten my day. I was intrigued to find out if this was all just in my head or if there was scientific proof behind my beliefs. Does music actually have the ability to make you happy or is it really just all in our heads?
It turns out that studies have shown that listening to music can help escalate your mood and reduce your stress levels. A study conducted at Mcgill University revealed the strong connection between listening to music and an increase in good moods. It tested the participants’ psychological responses and their mood levels in reaction to the type of music they were listening to. The participants had shown that when they listened to the music of their desire their mood levels had intensified, whereas when they listened to the more relaxed already picked for them music their mood levels were stagnant. However, in class we learned that correlation does not always equal causation. There is not a clearly identified mechanism; however, there are many instances in science where a mechanism is found later. So in this situation whether this correlation is due to causation is up to debate. Despite this theory, this study has proven how listening to upbeat music leads to a positive increase in one’s mood. The studied exemplified how participants had positive psychological responses to upbeat music therefore resulting in a positive mood.
Another interesting discovery I encountered while researching this topic was that it’s not just music that effects our mood but also our mindset. When listeners are actively participating in listening to upbeat music and channeling positive thoughts, we see much better results than those just causally listening to music in the background. Timothy Wall talks about the benefits of being in the proper mindset while listening to upbeat music in his article on the University of
Missouri’s News Bureau. He mentions studies done by Ferguson where participants were instructed to either focus on trying to improve their moods or to not put effort into improving their attitudes. The participants who did not diligently try to change their mood saw significantly less improvement than those who were trying to change their attitude. It is due to these findings that scientists strongly believe that if one has an open and positive mind, listening to music can elicit positive attitudes from people.
After reading these sources, I have come to the conclusion that yes, music has the potential and ability to elevates one’s mood levels. Through having a positive and open mind, being conscious of your attitude, and listening to your own version of “happy music” music has an extremely helpful effect on moods. So if you’re ever feeling down, plug in those earphones and let the music do its magic.