Adaptive and maladaptive attraction to negative emotions in music

Sandra Garrido, E. Schubert

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    85 Citations (Scopus)


    Individual differences were investigated in an attempt to explain why some people are attracted to negative emotion (grief, sadness) in music. A 10-item Like Sad Music Scale (LSMS) was developed (Cronbach's α = .802) and compared against subscales measuring absorption, music empathy, rumination, reflectiveness and nostalgia-proneness. This was tested via an online survey, completed by 137 participants. It was hypothesized that absorption and reflectiveness would be correlated with the enjoyment of sad music and rumination would be correlated with an attraction to sad music although not necessarily an enjoyment of it. Consistent with previous findings, absorption was a good predictor of the LSMS and was particularly correlated with the enjoyment of strong emotions in connection with sad music. Rumination correlated with LSMS items 'helps release sadness' and 'can relate to sadness' while reflectiveness correlated with the item 'I often find myself grieving as a result of listening to sad music'. These correlations suggest both adaptive and maladaptive uses of sad music for mood manipulation. The results were presented with respect to the dissociation theory of aesthetic enjoyment, where participants with the capacity to enter states of absorption are able to deactivate displeasure circuits and hence enjoy negative emotion in music. © The Author(s) 2013.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-166
    JournalMusicae Scientiae
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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