It’s no joke that music is soothing for the soul, and that many people are affected positively by music. However, what many people don’t know is the many ways that music affects and benefits our brains.
For starters, happy and sad music affects the way we see neutral faces. A recent study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, people were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. Our emotions are also affected by music in the sense that there are to kind of emotions that are related to music. These emotions are known as perceived emotions and felt emotions. These emotions mean that we can sometimes understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why we often times find listening to sad music enjoyable.
Ambient or moderate noise affects our creativity and can in fact improve our creativeness. Contrary to our assumed knowledge of how music affects us, moderate noise level is the “sweet spot” for creativity. Moderate noise level increases processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, resulting in more creativity.
Music also affects people’s personalities. According to Psych Blog, couples who spend time getting to know each other and looking at each other’s top ten favorite songs actually give somewhat reliable predictions as to their partner’s personality traits. After performing a study, Psych Blog found that some traits were more accurately predicted based on the person’s listening habits than others. For example, openness to experience, extraversion and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. In a similar study conducted by Heriot-Watt University, genres correspond to our personalities. For example, blues fans have a high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease. Rap fans also have a high self-esteem and are very outgoing, and country fans are hardworking and outgoing.
Music has a positive affect on us when we exercise because it helps to drown out our brain’s cries of fatigue. When our body realizes that we are tired and wants to stop exercising, it sends signals to the brain to stop for a break. Listening to music competes for our brain’s attention and helps us override the feelings of fatigue. Not only does it distract us from fatigue, but it also helps us use our energy more efficiently.
It is safe to say that music has endless affects on our brain and bodies, but these affects are what make music so appealing to us and soothing for the soul.