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Beautiful Yet Sad Music can Improve Moods

Update Date: Feb 19, 2014 05:19 PM EST

Several studies have discovered the impact that different kinds of music can have on people of all ages. Music has been tied to improving cognitive development for children as well as alleviating pain for older patients. According to a new study, psychologists from the Universities of Kent and Limerick from the United Kingdom and Ireland concluded that beautiful but sad music could help improve people's moods.

For this study, the team examined the effects of Self-Identified Sad Music (SISM) on people's mood. The researchers recruited 220 people and asked them to recall an emotionally charged sad memory. After they reported what they remembered, the participants were asked to pick a particular type of music to listen to. The researchers focused on the kind of music people picked when they were sad and why the participants might have made these selections.

The researchers found that many of the participants chose music that they categorized as beautiful but sad. This type of music appeared to improve their moods. However, the researchers found that the participants did not pick this type of music as a means of improving their mood. The team reported that people picked this kind of music because it was beautiful to listen to.

 "The results showed that if an individual has intended to achieve mood enhancement through listening to 'sad' music, this was in fact often achieved by first thinking about their situation or being distracted, rather than directly through listening to the music chosen," Dr. Annemieke van den Tol, Lecturer in Social Psychology at Kent's School of Psychology said reported by Medical Xpress. "Indeed, where respondents indicated they had chosen music with the intention of triggering memories, this had a negative impact on creating a better mood. The only selection strategy that was found to directly predict mood enhancement was where the music was perceived by the listener to have high aesthetic value.'

The study, "Listening to sad music in adverse situations: How music selection strategies relate to self-regulatory goals, listening effects and mood enhancement," was published in the Psychology of Music.

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