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Find consolation despite sad music
Although sadness is perceived by most people as unpleasant, sad music is quite popular. Here researchers Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch from the Free University of Berlin investigated in a current study the question of why many people seek and appreciate sadness in music. They have published their results in the specialist magazine "PLOS One".
Normally, no one wants to be sad and sad people often have an oppressive effect on their own mind. Many try to comfort and provide encouragement here. So listening to sad music and letting your emotions run wild seems to be the wrong way at first glance in times of mourning. However, the current study concludes that “listening to sad music can have beneficial emotional effects such as regulating negative emotions and moods.” The sad music obviously gives comfort to the listeners, the researchers conclude.
Positive effects of sad music In an online survey, the scientists asked 772 volunteers from different cultures about their musical preferences. Using 76 questions, Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch determined which music the test subjects preferred in which situations and what effect this had on their emotional state. According to the researchers, the results show four different positive effects of sad music. It conveys a feeling of empathy, stimulates the imagination, helps with emotion regulation and has no "real-life effects". The listeners can let their thoughts wander with the sad songs and have the feeling of sharing their emotions with someone. They put themselves, as it were, with the interpreters into a sad situation without actually having to fear real consequences of the sad fantasies they have lived through.
Nostalgia instead of sadness Most subjects prefer sad music when they have grief. Surprisingly, nostalgia instead of sadness is the most common emotion caused by sad music, the researchers explain the effect. They describe nostalgia as a "bittersweet" emotion that has both positive and negative aspects at the same time, such as joy and sadness. Nostalgia is also closely linked to the retrieval of autobiographical memories. The sad music has a positive effect, especially for “people with a high level of empathy and low emotional stability”. On the basis of the new findings, sad music could possibly also be used increasingly for therapeutic purposes in the future, although it remains to be clarified whether the positive effect will also be confirmed, for example, in patients with depression. (fp)
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