Research on the Psychological Effects of Music: A Beginning of a Study.


  • Aleksandra Dimkova University of Ljubljana



People’s behaviors and affective states are influenced by a number of external and internal factors. An interesting one among them is music, which has a number of effects on humans. To understand the phenomenon of music, it is important to tackle the question of how music is experienced and what it means for people. Previous research has produced knowledge about the underlying mechanisms for emotion induction with music [1] and has identified the functions of music listening [2]. In our study, we will focus on modern day listeners and their personal experience of music. In the beginning of our project, we are exploring the possibilities for researching individual differences that make music listeners develop specific music tastes and attitudes towards music, and make them susceptible to mood regulation with music. We would like to identify novel factors from listener profiles potentially associated with listening habits, emotional processing of music, and/or music preferences.


To approach our research question(s), we identified tools such as the Gold-MSI, Meta-Mood Scale, and Five Factor Model as useful. Our plan is to collect participant data via an online survey. A short self-reporting questionnaire will be used, such as a SAM scale, to measure emotional responses.


While researching relevant works, we found a substantial number of studies done on similar topics. However, whether they deal with the question of mood regulation with music or music preferences, the situational influence always presents a limitation in measuring emotional responses. There are various agents that influence the psychological state of participants in given situations, consequently influencing the results. These limitations could be relatively overcome with a preliminary study, that can hopefully provide stable knowledge about the independent variables.


We would like the relevance of our study to be recognized among disciplines such as musicology, psychology, and machine learning. We hope our findings will also contribute toward improving methods of music therapy. We would like to generate insights that can ignite new questions about the psychological effects of music. Future research on this and similar topics should be able to narrow down the space which the mystery of the mechanisms of music now takes.


[1] P. Juslin and D. Västfjäll, "Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms", Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 751-751, 2008. Available: 10.1017/s0140525x08006079.

[2] T. Schäfer, P. Sedlmeier, C. Städtler and D. Huron, "The psychological functions of music listening", Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 4, 2013. Available: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00511.