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How Music Can Affect Us

It is not a surprise to many that music affects their brains emotionally. Music has a considerable effect on emotions, and perhaps that is why it is added to films; to make people feel sad, happy, or scared at the right time. It stimulates a part of the brain responsible for producing dopamine hormone that affects emotions and moods. The effect of music is behavioral and neural; meaning it affects the mood and what people cannot control. Thus, music serves as an excellent strategy to continuously arouse emotions (Zhou et al 212). The basic emotions expressed by music are recognized across cultures. Depressed individuals seeking help from music therapists prefer music to find helpful ways (Stewart et al 2). Hence, it is critical not to ignore the momentary benefits of music to individuals struggling with depression. People worldwide use music to influence mood improvement daily (Stewart et al 9). The common musically induced emotions are happiness and sadness. Arguably, scientific research has enabled people to appreciate that music leads to self-awareness among depressed individuals, influences intertemporal decision-making, causes aggression, and helps in pain management; however, it matters to investigate music genres that inspire and encourage aggression.

What is Already Known

The fascinating characteristics of music lead one to ask how it affects people’s emotions. Research findings demonstrate that listening to music enables those experiencing feelings of sadness to scrutinize themselves, modify their behaviors, and increase oriented thinking critical in solving problems. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize one’s own sensations, emotions, and behaviors (Stewart et al 2). This awareness is an adaptive function that results in identifying aspects that benefit from behavior modification. Emotional awareness is a protective factor against psychopathology, allowing people to activate appropriate behaviors or emotional regulation strategies. Individuals with inadequate emotional awareness have limited access to effective interpersonal conflict resolution options (Stewart et al 2). This lack of self-awareness influences many young people with depression to listen to music. Elsewhere, as much as music plays a significant role in reducing the symptoms of depression, experts warn that listening to nostalgic or sad music elevates the symptoms of depression (Stewart et al 2). Be that as it may, some people become aware that the music they listen to does not improve their mood and take intentional steps to change their listening habits.

Music has an indisputable influence on intertemporal decision-making. The most reliable and recognized musically created emotions are happiness and sorrow (Zhou et al 213). Tempo and mode are two flexible musical features used in western tonal music. Fast-paced music creates sentiments of joy, while music with a slow tempo evokes feelings of despair. Happy emotions influence high arousal, while low arousal and pleasure are influenced by sad emotions (Zhou et al 213). People’s interpersonal decisions are influenced by music-induced emotions, which change the temporal dimensions. The real-time impact of music-induced emotions can be seen in intertemporal decision-making. People get impatient when making intertemporal decisions due to the heightened arousal induced by music (Zhou et al 224). As a result, music-induced emotions have an immediate impact on decision-making. This demonstrates that music is a trustworthy technique for influencing decisions.

Experts posit that listening to music is beneficial but also causes aggression. Music has positive effects on emotions but can also have adverse effects on the mental health of the listeners. Nostalgic or sad music creates an aggressive mood in the listener, leading to a surge in adrenaline. Individuals with the tendency to get hotter and infuriated easily experience the adverse effects when driving and listening to music. Music is a feature of an in-cabin environment with an excellent potential for emotional effects on the driver (Brodsky et al 2). This is because the emotional content of music impacts how individuals drive and control their automobiles. Happy music causes drivers to tap their hands on the steering wheel, resulting in a loss of vehicle control (Brodsky et al 2). On the other hand, sad music cause drivers to concentrate on the gravity of the lyrics, thus diverting their attention away from their internal thoughts. Music-generated emotions trigger unusual driving behaviors that cause an outraged aggressive driving style.

Music reduces stress levels by providing a robust competing stimulus to the pain that enters the brain. It is a non-pharmacological approach to relieving chronic pain alongside cognitive behavioral therapy that controls pain levels. The music’s capacity to distract and relax is thought to be responsible for its pain-relieving benefits (Low et al 14). Chronic pain, according to researchers, is a complicated phenomenon that impacts every part of human life, necessitating interventions that go beyond cognitive distraction. The biopsychosocial component of pain is addressed by using music therapy in the clinical setting to assist patients enhance their health within a therapeutic relationship (Low et al 14). Active music-making facilitates emotional expression, thus, improving a sense of well-being, and self-reliance. The power of music to distract and relax is credited with its pain-relieving properties (Low et al 14). Chronic pain, according to researchers, is a complicated phenomenon that impacts every part of human existence, and its treatment necessitates methods that go beyond cognitive distraction.

The biopsychosocial component of pain is addressed in music therapy’s clinical application to assist patients in enhancing their health within a therapeutic relationship (Low et al 14). Individuals suffering from chronic pain benefit from active music-making because it promotes emotional expression and consequently improves a sense of well-being and self-reliance in individuals afflicted by chronic pain. Creative engagement in music therapy improves the psychological well-being of individuals with chronic pain and develops a meaningful connection aligning with the biopsychosocial framework underlining the treatment protocol. Chronic pain undermines social resources, requiring individuals to connect with a support system vital to pain management.

What Needs to Be Known and Why it Matters

It is plausible that music affects people’s emotions in different ways. However, it is not clear to many that music generates ill-effects such as aggression. Thus, it is essential to research music genres that promote anger and foster aggressive behaviors. Every music style produces an aesthetic quality that individuals in the general population prefer (Brodsky et al 2). However, a few are problematic due to the harmful effects they generate. This warrants the research to understand particular genres that promote anger and foster aggression. Brodsky et al. have talked about music genres that promote aggressive behaviors. The researchers argue that heavy metal music styles lead to reckless behaviors such as sexual promiscuity and dangerous driving. The researchers further assert that heavy metal music demonstrates low self-esteem and promotes anti-social and degrading behaviors.

Ye et al. make a counter-argument, claiming that aggressive behavior is commonly reported among children and adolescents. Hence, music-based intervention is a critical psychotherapy that eliminates psychological behavior disorders. Be that as it may, it is critical to recognize that aversive music promotes anti-social behaviors. Unfortunately, listeners cannot discern between music genres that encourage positive thoughts and those that promote negative thoughts (Brodsky et al 3). Aversive music genres promote anger and general aggressive behaviors. Hence, listeners must question whether such behaviors occur within dynamic contexts. It is worth emphasizing that social psychology studies on the effects of music on daily life have not considered the effects of different music genres on drivers, thus, failing to classify them among factors leading to dangerous driving.

Why the Research Matters

It is undeniable that music plays a central role in society and affects emotions differently. Some music genres have been classified as problematic, warranting in-depth research to understand them better. The research is critical to understanding the general effects of risk-promoting music. Enlisting the music genre is vital in understanding hostile and aggressive driving behaviors. Traffic safety researchers have failed to classify music genres as one of the leading factors causing problematic behaviors on the roads. Thus, this study will provide reference material to understand how the music genre affects ordinary drivers. Apart from this research, more needs to be done to understand the general effects of risk-promoting music and why more people feel encouraged to listen to such music despite their actual and perceived effects. This is because a comprehensive body of research links sensation seekers’ exposure to specific media or music to higher levels of aggression and risk behaviors. New research will have a far-reaching implication on understanding factors influencing sensation seekers to listen to aversive music.

In brief, music plays a critical role in society and affects people’s emotions. It affects how people feel and behave. Some researchers propose that listening to music improves attention and motivation. Similarly, others postulate that it leads to self-awareness among depressed individuals, influences intertemporal decision-making, causes aggression, and helps in pain management. Nonetheless, it is suggested that some music genres promote anger and foster aggression. Therefore, it is essential to conduct comprehensive research to understand the general effects of risk-promoting music. This is because many people understand the positive effects of music but are unaware that it generates ill effects such as aggressive behaviors among listeners.

Work Cited

Brodsky, Warren, Dana Olivieri, & Eugene Chekaluk. “Music genre induced driver aggression: A case of media delinquency and risk-promoting popular culture.” Music & Science 1 (2018): 2059204317743118.

Low, Ming Yuan, et al. “Vocal music therapy for chronic pain: A mixed-methods feasibility study.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine vol. 26 Issue.2 (2020): 113-122.

Stewart, Joanna, et al. “Music use for mood regulation: Self-awareness and conscious listening choices in young people with tendencies to depression.” Frontiers in Psychology 10 (2019): 1199.

Ye, Peijie, et al. “Music-based intervention to reduce aggressive behavior in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis.” Medicine 100.4 (2021).

Zhou, Linshu, Yufang Yang, & Shu Li. “Music-induced emotions influence intertemporal decision making.” Cognition and Emotion 36.2 (2022): pp. 211-229.


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