Music and Emotion

Sometimes you hear a song and you are instantly drawn to it. Sometimes, you can’t even describe why it is but it makes you feel a way in which no other outside element can. You love the beat, melody, lyrics, or just the overall feeling you get with it. You can be put in better moods or left feeling sad and lost, either way, you are effected by the notes in some way. But what you like about one song could be just the thing that someone else hates about it. So, can music really make your emotions better or worse?


Pic found here

It turns out that science has started to explain why music means so much to us. A case study conducted in  2009 provided a solid starting point as to why music means so much to us and focuses on the emotion associated with it. The study focused on 1 main participant, a middle aged divorced male with 4 children. The study measured his mood prior to playing music, then played the music, and again measured post mood after hearing the song. The songs were picked on a scale with 4 main emotions. Sad, anxious, happy and neutral. The music played to the solo participant had different beats, styles and pitches. Similar articles link common themes found throughout the  research, but the articles fail to highlight some very important variables.

The hypothesis is clearly stated so it makes it more difficult to understand the meaning and who they measured their research gathered. Secondly, as discussed in class, it is very hard to measure things that are out of the terms of true measuring, for example, in class we talked about the study that talked about prayer making sick patients in the hospital better. There are simply to many variances, and unexplainable measurements. Finally the study is very hard to reproduce and get the same results. All of which the core reason as to why the null hypothesis in the prayer study failed to be accepted. The case study on music was a single research study as well, there are possibilities that it is suffering from the file drawer problem, after all, only one study was published with no other studies that it mentioned or referred to.

Along with that, sample size is lacking as well. The study was conducted with one person and they used that sample to make a general statement about the public. Perhaps the research could have focused more on a different question so the results were more cohesive to the research. There was no null hypothesis mentioned and no variables accounted for. So overall, the study was still might not have been done good enough to report on. Also, the emotions represented in the study, were leading in such a way that it might have lead the single male participate to choose a mood or feeling that wasn’t representative of his feelings, yet again, another possible confounding variable.

In closing, the study was very interesting but it left  many questions as to why humans react to music emotionally. Hopefully with more research study’s published, there will come a greater understanding in how music relates to someone,  and hopefully the studies don’t suffer from such lack conclusive evidence.



4 thoughts on “Music and Emotion

  1. Zachary Morris

    As someone who likes all types of music, I really liked and related to this blog post. I was surprised at the lack of studies done on this topic! I would have never guessed that this hadn’t been tested in bigger, more convincing sample sizes. It is a hard topic to draw concrete conclusions from but I too am looking forward to more of these experiments, and hopefully on a bigger scale. This is a long read- but here’s a good article about the SYNC project- which thoroughly covers what you’ve just mentioned.

  2. Jaier Vicente Avecillas

    I like how you compared your topic to what we had learned in class, and there are lots of study if music can affect mood. I believe this is true because music can manipulate emotions but it also manipultes athletic performances I did a blog earlier in the semester They did multiple experiments one of them was when they had athletes run to a certain playlist and the runners were running with the beat and were in synch with the song.

  3. Jessy Severino

    This by far was one of my favorite blog posts. As a music lover it is very true that when listening to different types of music there is an emotion that is experienced with each song and genre. For example when we are working out and listen to a up tempo song it gets us pumped and we feel a rush in our bodies. I really like that a study was done but there needs to be a bigger sample size to come to a conclusion because like you mentioned one person isn’t going to determine how everyone feels or reacts to the music. You made a very good point in that what if the participant was feeling a different emotion then the ones being tested.

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