Can Sad Music Make You Happy?

Eve analyses how music affects our mood – as we all dwell on sad music during these winter months.

 It’s January 2022. Here, in St Andrews, we’re entering the coldest and cloudiest time of year. The sky’s dark for almost three times as long as it’s light and, even during daylight hours, 65% of days are ‘overcast’ or ‘mostly cloudy’. To make matters worse, the new Omicron variant has caused COVID-19 cases to soar and forced thousands of people into self-isolation. The January blues are ready to hit.
With the early months of last year seeing a disgruntling 1 in 5 adults experience some form of depression, more than a few of us are likely to be dragged through the psychological trenches in the coming months. And what’s the natural accompaniment to our low spirits? Music – sad music, cry music, whatever you call it. Many of us choose to resort to playlists of gloomy, emotional hits to soothe or, at least, harmonize with our teary eyes.


But what’s the science behind sad people’s inclination towards sad music? Does listening to the likes of Adele, Phoebe Bridgers and Lana del Ray help us to feel comforted and understood, or does it simply cause us to dwell on our own sadness? Well, as you’d expect, the answers to these questions are relatively complex.


There’s definitely evidence to suggest that the arrival of shorter days and colder weather causes us to step away from feel-good summer bops towards slower, more despondent tunes. A study by Terry Pettijohn indicates that the number of daylight hours can impact our music choices, with university students tending to lean towards ‘reflective and complex’ music during the winter months and ‘energetic and rhythmic’ music during the summer. Data from Spotify points towards a similar correlation between dreary weather and low-mood songs, indicating that song popularity fluctuates more in countries with more distinct seasonal differences.

Source: Stock images


There’s also evidence to suggest music can affect us in our day-to-day lives. Whilst the Mozart-effect theory (that listening to Mozart can boost a child’s IQ) bears little semblance to reality, a study by Patrick N. Juslin, Gonçalo Barradas and Tuomas Eerola revealed that ‘mere sound can have a profound impact on listeners’. It can cause positive and negative stimuli, quicken heart rates and even alter muscle activity. The exact nature of sad-sounding music’s impact on our emotions does, however, vary from person to person.


Some studies indicate that, strangely enough, listening to other people singing about their struggles can make people happier. Musical psychologist Liila Taruffi’s work on neural responses revealed that the ‘experience sharing’ element of listening to sad songs can evoke positive feelings of ‘warmth and care’, even providing a ‘virtual surrogate for interaction’. The Juslin, Barradas and Eurola study also suggests that such music produces emotions like ‘nostalgia, peacefulness and wonder’. Sounds good, right?
Well, unfortunately for Adele fans, the situation’s not quite that simple. The clear majority of studies indicate that, especially in the cases of empaths and those struggling with depression, low-mood music is most likely to worsen mental states. According to Sandra Garrido and Emery Schubert’s study on ‘Music and People with Tendencies to Depression’, clinically depressed individuals tend to experience ‘unhealthy’ effects from low-mood music. Terry Pettijohn’s study concurs, suggesting that ‘such introspective content may reinforce isolation and depression’, as does Sandra Garrido’s work on teenage psychology. Even Liila Taruffi’s findings reveal that, whilst sad music can produce ‘pleasurable’ emotions, it risks causing ‘empathetic distress’ within participants.


Put simply, although it can be comforting, sad music is most likely to make you feel even worse.
What’s the solution then? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, science suggests that listening to happy music is the most sure-fire way to boost your mood. In Sarah Garrido’s study, for example, when participants were played an up-beat song of choosing, ‘even those with high levels of depression felt much better’. Dancing along to some obnoxiously joyful song is probably the last thing anyone wants to do when they’re feeling low. But, if the science is right, it might be worthwhile popping on some chirpy music next time you’re down in the dumps.


So, now that’s cleared up, I guess there’s one thing left to say: ‘Hey, Google. Play Walking on Sunshine on repeat.’

Comments

comments

11 thoughts on “Can Sad Music Make You Happy?

  1. I am often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  2. Thanks so much for giving everyone such a splendid chance to read in detail from here. It can be so good and as well , stuffed with a good time for me and my office acquaintances to search your website more than three times a week to study the fresh items you have got. And of course, I’m always contented with all the eye-popping strategies you serve. Certain 3 facts in this post are rather the most effective we’ve had.

  3. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!

  4. Thanks for your post. I would also like to comment that the first thing you will need to do is find out if you really need credit score improvement. To do that you have got to get your hands on a copy of your credit score. That should not be difficult, because government necessitates that you are allowed to obtain one cost-free copy of the credit report per year. You just have to inquire the right people. You can either find out from the website owned by the Federal Trade Commission or contact one of the main credit agencies immediately.

  5. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future. Many thanks

  6. Thanks for the concepts you reveal through this web site. In addition, many young women who become pregnant do not even try to get medical care insurance because they have anxiety they would not qualify. Although many states at this point require that insurers supply coverage no matter what about the pre-existing conditions. Premiums on these kind of guaranteed options are usually bigger, but when taking into consideration the high cost of health care bills it may be a new safer strategy to use to protect a person’s financial future.

  7. Things i have seen in terms of computer system memory is that there are specs such as SDRAM, DDR and many others, that must fit in with the specs of the mother board. If the pc’s motherboard is kind of current and there are no operating system issues, replacing the storage space literally takes under a couple of hours. It’s among the list of easiest personal computer upgrade procedures one can envision. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  8. I have really noticed that credit repair activity must be conducted with tactics. If not, you may find yourself destroying your rank. In order to be successful in fixing your credit ranking you have to confirm that from this time you pay your entire monthly dues promptly prior to their booked date. It’s really significant on the grounds that by definitely not accomplishing that, all other moves that you will decide to use to improve your credit ranking will not be useful. Thanks for giving your ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE STAND