Seven Ways Music Influences Mood

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Good music has direct access
to the emotions. As such it’s a fantastic tool for tweaking our moods. Saarikallio
and Erkkila (2007) investigated the ways people use music to control and
improve their mood by interviewing eight adolescents from Finland. The
participants may be a small, very specific group, but they actually present a
really useful list:
  • Entertainment – At the most
    fundamental level music provides stimulation. It lifts the mood before going
    out, it passes the time while doing the washing up, it accompanies travelling,
    reading and surfing the web.
  • Revival – Music revitalises in
    the morning and calms in the evening.
  • Strong sensation – Music can
    provide deep, thrilling emotional experiences, particularly while performing.
  • Diversion – Music distracts
    the mind from unpleasant thoughts which can easily fill the silence.
  • Discharge – Music matching
    deep moods can release emotions: purging and cleansing.
     
  • Mental work – Music encourages
    daydreaming, sliding into old memories, exploring the past.
  • Solace – Shared emotion,
    shared experience, a connection to someone lost.


These seven strategies all aim
for two goals: controlling and improving mood. One of the beauties of music is
it can accomplish more than one goal at a time. Uplifting music can both
divert, entertain and revive. Sad, soulful music can provide solace, encourage
mental work and discharge emotions. The examples are endless.
Many of Saarikallio and
Erkkila’s findings chime with previous research. For example, distraction is
considered one of the most effective strategies for regulating mood. Music has
also been strongly connected with reflective states. These tend to allow us
greater understanding of our emotions.
  
One of the few negative
connections Saarikallio and Erkkila consider is that sad music might promote
rumination. Rumination is the constant examination of emotional state which,
ironically, can lead to less clarity. On the contrary, however, Saarikallio and
Erkkila found that music increased the understanding of feelings, an effect not
associated with rumination.
About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.



SOURCE: PSYBLOG

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.