Music Can Boost Your Mood

New Study Shows That Music Tends to Correlate With Positive Emotions

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 17, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 17, 2008 -- Whether we are listening to classical music in the car, country on the computer, or pop piped into the grocery store, music is prevalent in our lives -- and that music seems to correlate with mostly positive emotions.

In a new study, 32 college students (aged 20 to 31) in Sweden tracked their emotions seven times a day using a handheld computer. The study reports that students were hearing music in 64% of the episodes.

The study was published in Emotion, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

Students answered a questionnaire whenever their handheld computers beeped. The handhelds were programmed to beep at seven randomly selected points in each day. In total, 2,424 episodes were captured with questionnaires filled out.

Students were experiencing music in 37% of the episodes. In 64% of music episodes, students reported that the music affected how they felt. Happiness-elation and nostalgia-longing were more likely to be reported in music episodes than non-music episodes. On the flip side, emotions such as anger-irritation, anxiety-fear, and boredom-indifference were more likely to be reported in non-music episodes.

The study took into account other factors, such as participants' personality types and what types of situations they were in when filling out questionnaires. For instance, happiness-elation, pleasure-enjoyment, and anger-irritation are more likely to be experienced in social settings than in solitary settings. Participants were more likely to feel nostalgia-longing, sadness-melancholy, and calm-contentment when they were alone.

"The study shows that emotional responses to music depend on complex interactions between the listener, the music, and the situation," the authors write in their conclusion.