Research – Happy Songs 2017-01-13T13:41:03+00:00

Research – Happy Songs

Music Improves Your Mood

Yuna Ferguson from Truman State University, Missouri conducted 2 studies in which participants successfully improved their moods in the short term and boosted their overall happiness over a two-week period by listening to music. They improved their mood if they listened to the upbeat music of American composer Aaron Copland, as opposed to the more sombre music from composer Igor Stravinsky. But participants, who listened to the music without being asked to attempt to change their mood, didn’t report any change in happiness.

So it’s important to focus on trying to be happy, but there’s no need for too much introspection. Ferguson says “Rather than focusing on how much happiness they’ve gained… people could focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey towards happiness and not get hung up on the destination.”

Read the study:

Trying to Be Happier Really Can Work

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text from our footnote* into your browser top bar)

Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre of the Montreal Neurological Institute have performed brain scans (PET scans) of people to see how they are affected by uplifting and neutral music. The positive music lifted their mood and activated those parts of the brain responsible for reward and positive emotion. They described that the music gave participants “chills” of euphoria.

Read about the research:

Musical chills: why they give us thrills

They have a long list of uplifting music which they used for their studies here:

http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/emotion/

Valorie Salimpoor et al. at McGill University in Montreal monitored the heart-rate, respiration and various other factors of 26 participants who listened to either pleasurable or neutral music. The results showed that listening to music could create a heightened emotional state.

Read the study here:

The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal

In a separate study, they scanned the brains of participants whilst listening to music. The results showed that music can cause the release of dopamine in the brain – the “feel good” chemical that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres.. This happens (in different ways) both when we’re anticipating part of the music and when we’re actually experiencing the pleasure of listening. “This basically explains why music has been around for so long,” says Salimpoor. “The intense pleasure we get from it is actually biologically reinforcing in the brain.”

Read a summary of their study here:

Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music (summary only)

Their research summarised for sciencedaily.com here:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110112111117.htm

Further Interesting Research

Research by Jacob Jolij and Maaike Meurs at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, shows that study participants who listened to more upbeat music experienced happier perceptions of life.

Test subjects had to identify happy and sad smiley faces while listening to happy or sad music. They were able to identify more accurately the smiley when the music matched the type of face. In addition, the subjects often thought they saw a happy one when listening to happy music and a sad one when listening to sad music when no smiley was shown.

Read about the research here:

Music changes perception

Research from the University of Queensland in Australia shows extreme genres of music can actually induce positive feelings in those who are feeling angry, if they are regular listeners of that type of music. Participants had their heart-rate measured and were interviewed before and after listening to music. The study found that extreme music fans listened to these genres to experience a range of emotions, from sadness to anger, in order to calm themselves down. The music’s energy was able to match their anger, but also enhance positive emotions, making the subject feel more “active and inspired.”

Read the research:

Extreme metal music and anger processing

A study of Finnish pupils who took music classes found they reported higher satisfaction at school in almost every area – including happiness and how much children liked each other.

Read the study here:

Extended music education enhances the quality of school life

Paediatrician Kathi Kemper and psychologist Suzanne Danhauer reviewed over eighty studies on the use of music in therapeutic settings. They concluded that music had multiple direct physiological effects including; improving mood, decreasing anxiety, helping to regulate breathing, helping to improve heart-rate irregularities and led to a decrease in the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Read the research here:

Music as Therapy

Footnote*

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text below relating to the article you wish to see into your browser top bar)

Yuna Ferguson
Trying to Be Happier Really Can Work
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265086573_Trying_to_be_happier_really_can_work_Two_experimental_studies

Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre
Musical chills: why they give us thrills
https://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/musical-chills-why-they-give-us-thrills-170538

They have a long list of uplifting music which they used for their studies here:
http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/emotion/

Valorie Salimpoor et al.
The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0007487#s5

Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music (summary only)
http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v14/n2/full/nn.2726.html

Their research summarised for sciencedaily.com here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110112111117.htm

Jacob Jolij and Maaike Meurs
Music changes perception
http://www.rug.nl/news/2011/04/058_jolij

University of Queensland
Extreme metal music and anger processing
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00272/full#h6

A study of Finnish pupils
Extended music education enhances the quality of school life
http://users.jyu.fi/~ptee/publications/Eerola_Eerola_2013.pdf

Kathi Kemper and Suzanne Danhauer
Music as Therapy
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7923541_Music_as_Therapy