Science & Tech

Scientists discover why we like listening to sad songs

Scientists discover why we like listening to sad songs
Here's Why Sad Music Is Good For You
unbranded - Lifestyle / VideoElephant

Ever wondered why you keep listening to a song even though it makes you feel sad? So have scientists.

A variety of explanations have been offered but a new study may have cracked the code and it's a lot more simple than once thought.

Researchers are proposing we listen to sad music simply because we find pleasure in feeling the sadness that such music evokes.

“I guess part of being human is that we just can’t cope with the idea that there’s something strangely pleasurable about negative emotion,” says Emery Schubert at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

“But what about people who actually just say: ‘Well, the reason I really love this piece of music is because it makes me sad?' Who’s to say that they’re wrong?”

Schubert asked 50 people to think about a piece of music they love but also consider sad; the answers ranged from Beethoven to Taylor Swift. Then, participants answered an online questionnaire about the emotions they felt while listening to their chosen piece.

They were then asked to imagine if the sadness in the music was removed. Overall, they said this would make them appreciate the music less with 82 per cent saying the sadness added to their enjoyment.

In another aspect of the experiment, Schubert asked another 53 people to identify a piece of music they love and would consider "moving". These participants widely reported feeling sad while listening to their chosen piece, despite enjoying it.

From these findings, Schubert says we often conflate the feeling of being "sad" and "moved" and as a result, experiencing a direct link between sadness and overall pleasure.

However, some have questioned the accuracy of the study. Tuomas Eerola at Durham University said he doubts if we can "remove" sadness from a song that is generally considered sad. "The whole study rests on an assumption that listeners are capable of perfect dissection of their emotional causes from each other concerning their loved music,” he said.

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