Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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People who are moved by sad music may be better at feeling the pain of others

Amy X. Wang writes:

While research into human cognition has long noted that music—chords, harmonies collections of sound comprising something of a universal language—has a profound relationship to the thoughts and emotions of people all over the world, a study published in the scientific journal Frontiers of Psychology peers into qualities and effects specifically associated with sad music.

Think somber, angsty, tugging-at-your-heartstrings type of melodies. According to the study, appreciation for such melancholy tunes is intriguingly linked to one particular trait: empathy.

People who report being “moved” by sad songs demonstrate higher levels of empathy than their peers, say the study’s three academic authors, who asked 102 participants to listen to a particular piece of music and answer detailed questions about their experience. Those who were barely affected by the music scored low on questions measuring emotional responsiveness to other people, while the opposite held true for people who felt strongly about the music. [Continue reading…]

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