Contrary to popular belief, people who are sad - particularly because of relationship problems - are not always drawn to music, movies, and other aesthetic experiences that will cheer them up.

In fact, a new study suggests that people who are in the middle of relationship problems are more likely to prefer sad aesthetic experiences that reflect their mood. This, the authors of the study hypothesize, is because sad movies, songs, and paintings offer a sense of emotional sharing similar to interacting with an empathetic friend.

"Emotional experiences of aesthetic products are important to our happiness and well-being," the authors wrote. "Music, movies, paintings or novels that are compatible with our current mood and feelings... are more appreciated when we experience broken or failing relationships."

The study surveyed participants, asking them what type of music they preferred in various situations. The authors found that participants were more likely to prefer angry music when confronted with interpersonal frustrations than they were when facing technical or physical frustrations. They also found that participants preferred sad music more often when identifying with the loss of a personal relationship than they did when identifying with another kind of loss.

After analyzing the results, the authors of the study concluded that consumers sometimes substitute emotional relationships with aesthetic experiences, leading them to purchase art that reflects their mood.

"Consumers seek and experience emotional companionship with music, films, novels and the fine arts as a substitute for lost and troubled relationships," the study concluded.