Under the Hood

Here’s How Music Affects Our Mood

For a majority of people, music is a part of everyday life, and living without it is impossible. It’s a constant companion, one that kids develop a taste for during their formative years and bring with them as an adult. Some merely use it as a distraction, while some love it so much that it influences them as a person. Some even write it for a living.

Whatever the reason, music is a huge part of our everyday lives, and it’s all for good reason. But have you ever wondered how music regulates our emotion? How some make us sadder and how others give us a calming feeling? Here are seven strategies that might explain why:

  1. Musical Catharsis – For some, musical acts as some form of catharsis, where they can release negative emotions (such as pain and frustration) without harming anyone. This is why when music makes us cry, we experience a form of release of our emotional side.
  2. Evaluative Conditioning – Evaluative conditioning involves the transfer of our feelings to past life events due to specific music. This also includes nostalgia, which explains why the music we grew up listening to holds importance, because it reminds us of simpler times in our life.
  3. Emotional Contagion – Music is, to put it simply, contagious. Sad music can make us feel somber, while happy music can energize us throughout the day. Concerts are a good example, where seeing people jump makes us want to jump too.
  4. Visual Mental Imagery – Visual and mental imagery via music is effective in making people relax, or at least amplify the feelings a certain type of music gives.
  5. Music and Rhythmic Movement – Being in sync with music, especially our internal rhythms, is a source of pleasure for many. This is why dancing along to music is so popular. It can even make exercise less strenuous and more enjoyable.
  6. Musical Pleasure – Music also has strong connections to feelings of pleasure, and can trigger the same biological and psychological responses associated with other highly fundamental rewards . This includes money, sex and even food. It can also help us be more in tune with our emotions, as well as others.
  7. Lyrical Content – Lastly, lyrical content can give voice to people’s feelings, whether or not they’re capable of putting it into words themselves. Most oftentimes, resonating with a song’s lyrics can have a longer effect on people.

Music Therapy The company brain.fm uses music to stimulate brain waves and induce states such as concentration or relaxation. Travis Yewell/Unsplash

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