It’s difficult to deny the strong emotional links we attach to the music we listen to. Who among us doesn’t have a playlist for upbeat music, one to relax to and even background tunes for when we need to study? When you’re going through a breakup or feeling particularly down in the dumps, there’s undoubtedly a go-to album or artist that you know will help you get through it.
Music is an emotional crutch, but the myriad ways it affects our mood and psychology is only just beginning to be truly understood by scientists. Music has the power to completely recalibrate our emotions and can change our feelings in an instant. Here are the surprising ways that music can influence our mood every day.
Music and Decision Making
Perhaps the most surprising way that music influences our emotions is the ways in which it affects our decision-making processes. Research has shown that the tempo and rhythm of music being played has the greatest impact. It’s for this reason that the music of places such as shopping malls and casinos is carefully selected to influence how visitors interact within these spaces.
In casinos, the music is chosen to attract people to the games and to keep them engaged with the machines. Believe it or not, it’s not just Welcome bonuses and free spins that attract new players to major digital casinos like the new UK Genesis casino.
That may be where players start their journey, but the games also use upbeat, repetitive music in their slot games and this has been proven to put people into the “zone” and keep them playing for hours on end. They also use music with nostalgic emotional connotations which remind players of their favourite childhood video games, also proven to draw people in.
This same emotional impact is leveraged in spaces like shopping centres and department stores. Relaxing music is played through the aisles, often a genre known as Muzak, which puts us at ease and makes us more comfortable while browsing the shelves and, of course, buying.
Music and Wellbeing
Music also has a proven impact on our wellbeing and general outlook on life. A range of studies conducted by British doctors recently demonstrated that particular music genres being played at regular intervals had a profoundly positive effect on the emotional wellbeing of test subjects.
Those shown to benefit the most from the playing of ‘happy’ music were prisoners, pregnant women, and patients diagnosed with clinical depression, who all reported improvements in mood and outlook during the course of their music therapy trials.
It is also true that playing sad songs does, in fact, induce sadness. If you’ve broken up with your partner, the temptation to start blasting some of Lana del Rey or Sam Smith’s most tearful ballads can be strong, but this has been proven to be a needless exercise in masochism.
The elements of music that our brains register as sorrowful tend to only make a bad situation worse, with listeners spiralling into a negative feedback loop where they make their emotional state worse, rather than better. It seems that music can be as dangerous as much as it can be therapeutic.
The fact that a combination of sounds and words can have such a strong impact on how we feel is a touching reminder of what it means to be human, one that should be celebrated.