Music Improves Mood

When That Music Starts To Play, Bad Moods Go and Good Moods Stay

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 22, 2003 -- No matter what kind of music you listen to, it makes your mood better.

At least it works for college students, report Valerie N. Stratton, PhD, and Annette H. Zalanowski, of Penn State University, Altoona. The researchers -- Stratton teaches psychology and Zalanowski teaches music -- studied their students' moods in response to music.

The psychology and music students kept two-week music-listening diaries. They also reported their moods before and after each musical episode. The results appear in a recent issue of Psychology and Education: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

"Not only did our sample of students report more positive emotions after listening to music, but their already positive emotions were intensified by listening to music," Stratton says in a news release.

It didn't matter whether the students listened to rock/pop, soft rock/easy listening, oldies, classical, or new-age music. It also didn't seem to matter whether the music was played during an activity -- such as dressing or driving -- or whether it was played while socializing.

After listening, the psychology students were more optimistic, joyful, friendly, relaxed, and calm. They also were less pessimistic and sad. Music, however, did not entirely soothe the frightened beast in student breasts. After listening, they did not report being less fearful.

For the music students, music did not seem to be the food of love.

"Every positive mood except loving rose in intensity after episodes of listening to music," Zalanowski says in a news release. "Meanwhile, most of the negative moods showed a drop in frequency -- except sad, hateful, and aggressive, which either stayed the same or increased slightly."

But the psychology students and the music students were more alike than they were different. When it came to listening preferences, both overwhelmingly chose rock.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Stratton, V.N. Psychology and Education: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2003; vol 40: pp 1-11. News Release, Penn State University.
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