We all love music and how it makes us feel. Did you know that in addition to affecting our moods and emotions, music can also change our perceptions?
Quite a few studies have been conducted to demonstrate this finding. For example, a study was conducted at the Psychology Department of the University of Groningen (by researcher Jacob Jolij and student Maaike Meurs), where the research respondents in the study were asked to identify happy and sad faces while listening to happy or sad music. It turned out that the faces that they chose identified more closely with the type of music that was being played, rather than with what they had actually seen.
The bottom line is that we can tend to project the mood of the music that we hear onto what we see, thereby, changing our perceptions of our experiences. In an additional study, quick 15-second fusion blasts of happy music made the respondents project "happy" images onto the faces that they were shown. This same process worked for sad faces and sad music.
Basically, the researchers are finding that our minds build up our expectations about what we are seeing, not only based on our experiences, but also based on our moods and how we are feeling at the particular time.
And, this leads us to sad music. Many of us do actually really enjoy listening to sad music. Beautiful, yet sad, music can actually make us feel better.
In a study that was conducted on participants' reactions to sad music, Japanese researchers discovered that sad music triggered 'contradictory emotions' by the participants. They could feel the contradictions of sadness in contrast with romantic emotional reactions, which could actually feel pleasant. 'Sadness through song' is different from sadness in daily life because it is not real, it is not posed as a threat to our own safety. Therefore, it can make listeners feel better. As one researcher noted, "If we suffer unpleasant emotion evoked by daily life, sad music might be helpful to alleviate negative emotion."
Do you sometimes listen to sad music? How does it affect you? Please share your thoughts and feelings with us.