Under the Hood

Set The Mood: Music Creates Intimacy Between Mates And Helps You Feel Like You're Falling In Love

couple falling in love
Background music might have quite an impact on how you fall in love — and with whom. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

When you remember those first few weeks of falling in love, it’s likely there’s a soundtrack to accompany your hazy, dreamy memories, whether it’s a full album, a single song, or even a mix.

Romance does have some science behind it — at least that’s what one new study shows. The study, completed by researchers at Aoyama Gakuin University’s Psychology department, sought to investigate music’s impact on getting-to-know-you scenes, and whether it made you more likely to fall in love.

“This study examines whether background music gives young Japanese adults a more favorable impression of conversation partners of the opposite sex for the first meeting,” the authors wrote in their abstract. They ultimately found that simply having conservations with people of the opposite sex works to boost someone’s opinion of them; but having background music enhanced their sense of intimacy and attraction.

The researchers gathered 32 girls and guys, all of whom were in their teens or 20s, to meet up for konkatsu — a Japanese practice known as marriage hunting, similar to speed-dating. The participants were given one of two conditions: The first experienced background music during a 20-minute conversation, and the other was the “no-music” group in which no music was present. They were divided into eight groups of two males and two females each, and four other students in two male and female pairs were “guests” in the conversation.

The participants were asked to rate their impressions of the guests of the opposite sex both before and after the conversation. People in the music rooms chatted informally with their partners as either rock, rap, or classical music played in the background.

In both groups, participants were asked to rate scores for 10 traits in their partners, such as confidence, patients, likeableness, as well as their own personal interest in dating them before and after their conversations. While people’s impressions of their partners rose simply through face-to-face conversation, levels of intimacy and attraction increased even more with music playing in the background.

The study did not, however, look into what types of music had certain effects on lovers and acquaintances; rather, it was merely a glimpse into how music as a whole affects us compared to no music. One study completed in 2010 suggested that songs with romantic lyrics could impact a woman’s compliance with a romantic request — like spurring her to agree to give someone her phone number. But if your least favorite band is playing in the background, will you still have as much of a favorable impression of your conversation partner, or be as likely to take a leap of faith and be open to someone approaching you at a bar? These are interesting questions that have yet to be investigated.

Source: Shigeno S. Effects of background music on young Japanese adults’ impressions of opposite-sex conversation partners. Psychology of Music. 2015.

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