Why Do We Listen to Sad Songs? A New Study Offers an Answer.

In the second part of the experiment, involving 450 new topics, the scientists gave every single participant 72 descriptions of emotional songs, which expressed feelings including “contempt,” “narcissism,” “inspiration” and “lustfulness.” For comparison, they also gave individuals prompts that described a conversational interaction in which somebody expressed their emotions. (For example: “An acquaintance is speaking to you about their 7 days and expresses thoughts of wistfulness.”) On the full, the thoughts that subjects felt were deeply rooted to “what songs is all about” ended up also those that created individuals sense far more linked to one yet another in discussion: enjoy, joy, loneliness, sadness, ecstasy, calmness, sorrow.

Mario Attie-Picker, a philosopher at Loyola University Chicago who aided direct the research, uncovered the success compelling. Soon after taking into consideration the knowledge, he proposed a relatively easy concept: Perhaps we listen to tunes not for an psychological reaction — several subjects documented that unfortunate audio, albeit artistic, was not especially enjoyable — but for the feeling of connection to others. Used to the paradox of unfortunate songs: Our love of the music is not a immediate appreciation of unhappiness, it’s an appreciation of relationship. Dr. Knobe and Dr. Venkatesan were being speedily on board.

“I’m a believer now,” Dr. Eerola mentioned when he was alerted to the examine. In his individual exploration, he has discovered that especially empathetic folks are far more most likely to be moved by unfamiliar sad songs. “They’re prepared to interact in this type of fictional sadness that the music is bringing them,” he claimed. These people today also screen additional major hormonal changes in response to unhappy tunes.

But unhappy music is layered — it is an onion — and this rationalization prompts extra thoughts. With whom are we connecting? The artist? Our earlier selves? An imaginary individual? And how can unfortunate tunes be “all about” nearly anything? Does not the electrical power of artwork derive, in element, from its capacity to transcend summary, to broaden knowledge?

A single by a person, the researchers acknowledged the complexity of their subject matter, and the limitations of present function. And then Dr. Attie-Picker made available a significantly less philosophical argument for their effects: “It just feels suitable,” he said.

Audio produced by Adrienne Hurst.