Why is it that when we go through a heartrending event such as a breakup, we immediately gravitate toward the saddest songs on our playlists? Why wouldn't we turn to upbeat, happy music to lift our spirits?
There's something strangely satisfying about slow, gut-wrenching melodies and painfully honest lyrics. It's as if we're not alone; someone else is experiencing the same pain as we are. Well, a new study in PLOS ONE confirms the fact that melancholic melodies really do make us feel better in times of trouble.
In an online survey, researchers at Freie Universität in Berlin asked more than 700 people about their personality traits and music-listening habits: how often and why they listened to sad music, how the music affects their emotions, and examples of their favorite sad songs.
Sad music most frequently inspired nostalgia in the participants, but the subjects also noted a wide range of feelings beyond happiness and sadness. Some other "sublime" emotions, as the authors put it, are blitheness, wonder, transcendence, tenderness, peacefulness, power, and joyful activation.
But doesn't this just tell us something we already knew? That it feels good to listen to sad songs when you're feeling down? The authors say that sad music could be helpful in music therapy, and can be used to promote music-induced reward, which could consequently improve health and well-being.
Sometimes it helps to let out a good cry. So when you're feeling down, try curling up under the covers with one of these songs, and see if you can release some of those pent-up emotions.
Got any favorite songs you like to listen to when you're down in the dumps? Let us know!
(h/t New York Magazine)