People with depression listen to sad music because it makes them feel better. Researchers have conducted a study to prove if this theory is correct.
Researchers at the University of South Florida asked 76 female undergrads (half of them were diagnosed with depression) to listen to various classical music clips. “Happy” music included Jacques Offenbach’s cheerful “Infernal Gallop,” and “sad” music included Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” which is almost universally considered to be extremely depressing. The scientists found that participants with depression indicated they would rather listen to sad music than happy music.
Then, the researchers gave the participants new clips of happy and sad instrumental music and asked them to describe how the tracks made them feel. Again, the depressed participants preferred the sad music, but they also stated that the sad music made them feel happier. This challenges the assumption that sad people listen to sad music to make themselves feel worse, when, in fact, it may be a coping mechanism.
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