Why Do People Enjoy Listening to Sad Music?
Science & Tech / /
Japanese researchers found that sad music can cause positive emotions. The study suggests that sadness experienced through art can help in coping with negative emotions in everyday life.
Discovery to which researcher Ai Kawakami and colleagues at the Tokyo University of Arts and Science Institute RIKEN came, can help us understand why many people prefer to listen to sad music. Their research is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
The researchers asked 44 volunteers, among who there were musicians as well as participants with other profession, to listen to two sad and two cheerful compositions. After that, the participants were asked to choose key words to describe their experience of music and their emotional state.
The researchers explained that the sad music evoke contradictory emotions of the participants because they characterized the music itself as "tragic," "less romantic" and "less good" compared to their emotional state.
“In general, sad music is thought to cause us to experience sadness, which is considered an unpleasant emotion. As a result, the question arises as to why we listen to sad music if it evokes sadness. One possible answer to this question is that we may actually feel positive emotions when we listen to sad music,” was written in the study.
The music that is perceived as a sad in fact provokes romantic emotions. Participants, no matter how musically educated they were, experiencing that ambivalent feeling while listening to sad music.
In addition, unlike sadness in daily life, sadness experienced through art is experienced as a pleasant fact, probably because it does not represent a real threat to our emotional security.
Therefore listening to sad music can help people cope with their negative emotions in everyday life.
The emotions experienced through music does not represent an immediate danger nor can they cause us harm, as opposed to the emotions experienced in daily life. Therefore, we can even enjoy an unpleasant emotion, such as sadness. If you suffer from unpleasant feelings caused by various situations in everyday life, sad music can be of help to alleviate it -- the researchers conclude in their study.