Several years ago, the University of Missouri conducted a detailed study of the impact music has on mood. The study confirmed what many have speculated for an extended period of time. Music does impact a person’s mood. The type of music can have a specific impact on an individual’s mood.
Upbeat, Positive Music and Mood.
The Journal of Positive Psychology took the Mizzou study one step further. The study focused specifically on using upbeat, positive music to improve the mood and level of happiness of research participants. These were individuals who commenced the study suffering from the blues.
The Journal of Positive Psychology reported that in two weeks’ time, study participants who were exposed consistently to positive, upbeat music, experienced a noticeable improvement in their overall mood. There was a control group associated with the study. They were not consistently exposed to positive, upbeat music, or any genre of music on a consistent basis. These individuals showed no change the their mood. They still suffered from the blues at the end of the study period.
A person considering this study is likely to conclude that exposure to positive, upbeat music made a somewhat sad person feel better. However, when people were exposed to other types of music, some might initially feel that the end result of such exposure seems counterintuitive on first blush.
Sad Music and Mood
Another group of folks who were suffering from the blues were consistently exposed to more sad, perhaps even rather somber music. At the start of the study, some people involved in the research speculated that this group of individuals would not show an improvement in their emotional states. Indeed, there was logical speculation that sad, somber music might even make people suffering from the blues feel worse. After all, positive, upbeat music improved the spirits of people suffering from the blues.
In the end, the people suffering from the blues who were exposed consistently to sad, somber music demonstrated an improvement in the overall mood and emotions. Researchers came to conclude that sad music provided something of substitute for what was causing the blues in the first instance.
For example, if a person was down in the dumps because of a relationship breakup, the sad, somber music ended up providing a substitute for the ended relationship. The musical substitution made a person feel better.
Soothing Music and Anxiety
Although the correlation between sad music and mood improvement was rather a surprise, the same cannot be said of the benefits of soothing music on addressing anxiety. Time and again, more soothing music, including certain types of classical music, appeared to lessen a person’s level of anxiety.
The American Music Therapy Association reports that surgeons and hospitals have begun utilizing soothing music in advance of a patient’s surgery. The strategy has lowered the stress level of patients. However, research has also revealed that soothing music has also been effective in lessening the pain suffered by a patient during and after surgery. Indeed, many patients consistently exposed to soothing music during the surgical process required less pain medication.
Heavy Metal Music and Mood
A research study at Emporia State University considered the effect of heavy metal music on the mood of participants in the study. In this case, the study participants were undergraduate students. The belief was that this group of individuals would have fewer people in the cohort who did not care for heavy metal music.
The results of the study revealed that individuals exposed to heavy metal music on a consistent basis, including people who clearly liked or preferred the genre, were liked to experience noticeable increases in what the study authors called jitteriness. The study also suggests that individuals consistently exposed to heavy metal music also demonstrated decreases in “calmness, security, satisfaction, comfortableness, relaxation, contentedness, steadiness, and pleasantness.”
Pop Music and Mood
Finally, in the Emporia State University study, a cohort of participants was exposed to pop music on a consistent basis. This study group was also comprised of undergraduate students who, as a cohort, were expected to have positive feelings about this genre of music.
The student revealed that a consistent exposure to pop music had a positive impact on the mood of study participants. The study concluded that the cohort, on balance, experienced greater “comfortableness and relaxation, and decreased tension, worry, and confusion.”
Research on types of music and different moods continues. As the research develops, certain types of music are being more frequently integrated into different activities as a means of optimising the mood of individuals.
Jessica Kane is a writer for SoundStage Direct, the number one online source for the best vinyl records and turntables.