Monday, November 10, 2008

Seven Ways Music Influences Mood
Located on PsyBlog
Posted by Justine


Saarikallio and Erkkila (2007) investigated the ways people use music to control and improve their mood by interviewing eight adolescents from Finland. The participants may be a small, very specific group, but they actually present a really useful list:
Entertainment - At the most fundamental level music provides stimulation. It lifts the mood before going out, it passes the time while doing the washing up, it accompanies travelling, reading and surfing the web.
Revival - Music revitalizes in the morning and calms in the evening.
Strong sensation - Music can provide deep, thrilling emotional experiences, particularly while performing.
Diversion - Music distracts the mind from unpleasant thoughts, which can easily fill the silence.
Discharge - Music matching deep moods can release emotions: purging and cleansing.
Mental work - Music encourages daydreaming, sliding into old memories, and exploring the past.
Solace - Shared emotion, shared experience, a connection to someone lost.

These seven strategies all aim for two goals: controlling and improving mood. One of the beauties of music is it can accomplish more than one goal at a time. Uplifting music can divert, entertain and revive. Sad, soulful music can provide solace; encourage mental work and discharge emotions. Many of Saarikallio and Erkkila's findings chime with previous research. For example, distraction is considered one of the most effective strategies for regulating mood. Music has also been strongly connected with reflective states. These tend to allow us greater understanding of our emotions. One of the few negative connections Saarikallio and Erkkila consider is that sad music might promote rumination. Rumination is the constant examination of emotional state, which, ironically, can lead to less clarity. On the contrary, however, Saarikallio and Erkkila found that music increased the understanding of feelings, an effect not associated with rumination.

I think that music is a great way for people to slip away from everyday life or to improve it. It is amazing how just by listening to a favourite piece of music our moods can instantly change negative to positive. This just goes to show how powerful music is, almost like a drug, it can change and transform us in no time! This is one of the reasons why I think music therapy is great especially for children who have a hard time understanding their emotions and/or their moods. I think music should be used as much as possible in the class room as a mood regulator and learning tool. Just having music playing in a room can change the ambiance greatly and make people feel more relaxed yet at the same time captivated. Yes, sad music can definitely promote rumination but again I’m not sure that this is always a bad thing. Sometimes we need to let ourselves feel what we really feel and stop trying to suppress it, which we all know how to do really well. We don’t always need to be happy and likewise we shouldn’t always be sad. Music can help create in our minds and our bodies whatever we need. Whether it is happiness, peacefulness or excitement we are sure to find it through the power of music.

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