summary: Certain features of music, rather than genre, play an important role in stress recovery. The study, which involved 470 participants, found that stress-relieving songs had common characteristics, regardless of musical style.
This study shows that people who listen to music with specific characteristics recover faster from stress than those who listen to random notes. This study highlights the importance of focusing on audio characteristics rather than genre in music therapy.
- Stress relief songs usually fall into two categories: calm songs in major mode and energetic songs in minor mode.
- Study participants who listened to music with these specific characteristics were shown to recover faster from stress.
- Adiast’s research highlights the personal nature of music in stress relief and suggests the need for music researchers to focus on audio characteristics rather than genre.
sauce: Radboud University
Are you feeling stressed? Listening to songs like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Nothing Else Matters,” and “Baby One More Time” might calm you down again.
Psychologist and music scientist Krisna Adiast has found that while the genre of music doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to the songs you choose to help you recover from stress, the songs that work have common characteristics. Krisna Adiast will receive her PhD from Radboud University on January 29th.
In a society where ongoing stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, burnout, and depression, it’s important to seek out appropriate stress relief. In addition to meditating and running, many people also listen to music to relax.
“Studies have shown that combining music and therapy can yield positive results,” says psychologist Krisna Adiast. “But when it comes to listening to music alone, the research isn’t clear-cut. Not everyone feels better after singing a few songs.”
Adiast et al. investigated what kind of music is most effective for stress recovery and why. Using a survey, researchers asked 470 participants of various nationalities about songs that made them feel better after stress. “The answers we got were surprising,” says Adiast.
“If you look at past surveys, you would think most people would choose classical music, but the songs chosen ranged from hardstyle to classical, soundtracks to ambient music.”
A list of 1,296 songs was created based on the questionnaire. Researchers have found that stress-relieving songs share common characteristics. Adiast et al. classify these into his two groups. Mellow songs in the major mode, such as Maroon 5’s “Memories” and John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and fairly energetic songs in the minor mode, such as “Shape.” Ed Sheeran’s “Of You” and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” The songs are often performed in his key of E and have a moderate tempo in 4/4 time.
200 people then took part in an online experiment in which they had to perform stressful tasks. Next, participants listened to 10 minutes of her audio. Audio was categorized into one of his three groups of researcher-selected music, self-selected music, or random notes selected from the previous two categories.
“People who listened to music chosen by researchers or music they chose recovered faster from stress than the group who listened to random notes,” Adiast says.
“We believe this is because researcher-selected or self-selected music leads to cognitive distraction, which helps people recover faster from stress.” The music you choose can bring about positive changes in your emotions and have a beneficial effect on your recovery from stress.”
Adiast et al.’s research shows that listening to music itself has an impact on stress recovery, but Adiast is cautious about recommending it, saying that classical music is currently the most relaxing.
“Music is a very personal thing. Even songs that don’t fit into the two categories we’ve identified may be very personal to someone, for example because they have very pleasant associations with that particular song. It could work well.”
Adiasto said it was particularly striking that genre had a smaller influence than commonly thought, which is an important finding of the study. He emphasizes the importance for music researchers to focus on audio characteristics across genres.