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Study: Sad Songs Can Make People Feel Better

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File photo of a man listening to music on a  tablet.  (credit: Albert Mollon/Getty Images)

File photo of a man listening to music on a tablet. (credit: Albert Mollon/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA, Ga.  (CBS Atlanta) – According to a recent study, music can have a self-contradictory effect on a person’s mood. If a listener is feeling down, listening to a sad song may make that person feel happy.

Researchers from the University of Kent analyzed data on reasons why people would choose a certain song to listen to when they feel sad, and the weffect that song had on them.

Researchers determined a number of reasons, but found that not every time a person chose a song to enhance their mood.

The study only identified music labeled as “beautiful” as to be a mood enhancer.

Researchers asked 220 participants to recall an emotional time in their life and the music they listed to afterwards.  The study found three primary reasons that influenced music choice.

The first reason was that music may trigger the memory for a specific event; second, the listener thought a piece of music was “beautiful;” and third, the musical piece relays a specific message.

“We found in our research that people’s music choice is linked to the individual’s own expectations for listening to music and its effects on them,” Annemieke Van den Tol, Ph.D., a professor in Social Psychology at Kent’s School of Psychology, and the study’s lead author told Psych Central. “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.”

“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,” Van den Tol added.

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