Dr. Mayo – Music & Psychology

Music’s powerful influence on our bodies & mental health

by Dr. Mayo – March 14, 2018

*Note: although this feature and article review empirical articles on music’s effects on people, limitations to each study’s results should ALWAYS be considered. We can’t assume thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are CAUSED by music, but we can identify links between music and thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Read critically.

Music has been such a powerful influence on all ages for as long as many of us can remember. Historical accounts frequently cite the power of music in times of celebration, tragedy, solace, and entertainment. It has profound effects on the body, mind, and soul in both positive and negative ways. It is important for us to make note of these ways, so that we can incorporate the healing power of music into our lives, rather than perpetuate our negative thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors with music that confirms these things.

Several studies have confirmed the benefits of music. Often, music that is classical or meditative in nature is cited in studies that link music to mental and physical health. Music’s healing properties has been found in studies examining post-surgery recovery rates (Jenny Hole, Martin Hirsch, Elizabeth Ball, Catherine Meads. Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet, 2015), pain reduction in chronic illnesses (Knox, D., Beveridge, S., Mitchell, L., MacDonald, R., 2011. Acoustic analysis and mood classification of pain-relieving music. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 130 (3), 1673-1682), immune system improvements, and changes brain chemistry (source). Music is used in therapeutic contexts, with much promise in alleviating symptoms found in PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and many more conditions (source). It also has the capacity to help us remember information more efficiently (source 1; source 2). So many studies (as listed above and more) have examined the positive influence of music on our mental and physical health; however, the type of music we listen to also matters.

Music can have huge negative effects on our bodies and mental health. This has been confirmed in several studies investigating what we listen to, our motives behind listening to music, and how that powerfully shapes our attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes, and feelings about ourselves and others. We are highly impressionable beings that can be influenced by negative lyrics, or even through venting negative feelings through music by way of discharge (matching music to our current emotional state). Increased levels of aggression, negativity, depression, neuroticism, and risk-taking behaviors are linked to the music we listen to (source 1; source 2); therefore, it is so important that we remain cognizant to the type of music we expose ourselves to. Remember, music is NOT a causal factor here, but it does have connections to how we already think, feeling, and behave. As such, music can maintain and even promote those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by way of listening to lyrics that confirm these components. So, check-in with yourself: what are kind of music are you listening to today? Check out the articles above for more information on how powerful music is in your life.

Idea/Concept: Dr. Mayo
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Ethan Chabala
Writing: Dr. Mayo
Anchor: Dr. Mayo

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