Music has played a major role in my life, helping me get through my darkest times by helping me feel my emotions and changing my perception on the world. I have always found that music reflected how I was feeling but also allowed me to change my mood depending on the beat or melody of the music I was listening to. Due to this I have become ever so curious of the implication music can have on the human brain. The psychological effect music can have on the brain is something that has also been on my mind. How is it that music can alter your perceptions and emotions?
As I am very fond of music and have found that it has a significant effect on my behvaiour and my perceptions towards others and in particular situations. I want to be able to go deeper into the human mind and find out why this may happen and if there are particular genres that effect people more than others. In turn, perhaps creating a guide of what is the best music to listen to then you are waking up, ready to start your day or when you need motivation.
The spark of interest for this particular topic, came to me after reading an article written by Mark Changizi (2009) ‘Why Does Music Make Us Feel?’. It was here that I came across a study conducted by Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya from the University of London. In which they explored the effect music had on visual image. Their results found that ‘musical stimuli can systematically influence the perceived emotional content in target visual stimuli’ (Logeswaran and Bhattacharya, 2008). The results had me questioning, if music could affect visual images, could it not effect attitudinal perceptions of different people?
However, after gathering different studies I came across Juslin and Västfjäll’s paper ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms’. It is here where they argue that music can’t actually induce emotion but is a ‘sensory or cognitive process that does not necessarily say anything about what the listener, himself or herself, is feeling’ (Juslin and Västfjäll, 2008). They state that to truly get an answer to the question if you can have emotional responses towards music, you have to establish how emotion is defined. They also present cases where studies have proven that music can be just as effective as other emotion-elicitation techniques.
Therefore, for my research project, I have decided to look into the effects music has on our emotional responses. Asking questions, such as, can music change our attitudinal perceptions and responses? Can music change our mood and mind set? I want to explore how we react when we hear a particular song at different times of the day, with a particular beat or harmony, and how this in turn can effect our perceptions towards other and other everyday situations. Thus giving us an insight into the psychological developments and changes to the human brain.
In order to collect the relevant information, I intend to assemble my findings by using already published results and conducting my own research by using surveys. With the surveys I want to create a base line to see who listens to music when they are feeling sad or happy and who listens to music to change their mood or feels that music has changed their mood on numerous occasions. I would also establish what type of genre they listen to and ask for particular songs and cross-reference them to research that has already been conducted. With this in order I will perform a data analysis (quantitative data) as to uncover which particular genres are more popular to lift spirits or improve attitudes. To expand on this further I will add exploratory questions to my survey, as to discover a deeper reasoning as to why students may believe that music is helping their emotions and attitudes to change.
I want this research to uncover the workings of the human brain, thus expanding our knowledge of what we already know and what we’ve always wanted to know. I want to value the unexpected and establish an understanding of the power of music on our minds as well as our emotions. I want to be able to put forward a new appreciation for music.
Changizi, M 2009, ‘Why Does Music Make Us Feel?’, Scientific American, weblog post, 15 September, viewed 23 March 2016 < http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-music-make-us-fe/>
Juslin, PN & Västfjäll, D 2008 ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 31, pp. 559-621
Logeswaran, N & Bhattacharya, J 2008 ‘Crossmodal transfer of emotion by music’, Neuroscience Letters, vol. 455, pp. 129-133