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Emotional reactions to music in depressed individuals
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2017 (English)In: Psychology of Music, ISSN 0305-7356, E-ISSN 1741-3087Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Music is often used to alleviate depression, an affective disorder. Yet, little is known about how listeners suffering from depression respond emotionally to music. The goal of this study was to investigate whether listeners show different patterns of emotional reactions to music depending on level of depression. In previous research, depression has been linked with negative biases in cognitive processes such as memory and attention. Here we indirectly investigated whether such biases may also influence psychological mechanisms involved in the arousal of emotions during musical experiences. Seventy-seven listeners (19?65 years old) took part in an experiment which compared depressed individuals with non-depressed controls. The participants listened to music stimuli designed to target specific induction mechanisms (brain stem reflex, contagion, episodic memory), and were asked to rate felt emotions. Based on previous studies on cognitive bias, we made predictions about how depression would affect reactions to each stimulus. The predictions received partial support: depressed listeners reported significantly lower levels of happiness in the memory condition and non-significantly higher levels of anxiety in the brain stem condition, than did controls. Conversely, no difference in reported sadness was found in the contagion condition. Observed differences were mainly attributable to the severely depressed listeners.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications Ltd , 2017.
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-331331DOI: 10.1177/0305735617730425OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-331331DiVA, id: diva2:1148890
Conference
2017/10/12
Available from: 2017-10-12 Created: 2017-10-12 Last updated: 2018-01-19
In thesis
1. Affective responses to music in depressed individuals: Aesthetic judgments, emotions, and the impact of music-evoked autobiographical memories
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Affective responses to music in depressed individuals: Aesthetic judgments, emotions, and the impact of music-evoked autobiographical memories
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Music’s powerful influence on our affective states is often utilized in everyday life for emotion regulation and in music-therapeutic interventions against depression. Given this ability of music to influence emotions and symptoms in depressed people, it appears imperative to understand how these individuals affectively respond to music. The primary aim of this thesis is to explore whether depressed individuals have distinct affective responses to music, in terms of aesthetic judgments, emotional reactions, and emotion regulation. Furthermore, the thesis aims to provide possible explanations for such differences, in terms of underlying psychological processes (e.g., emotion-induction mechanisms) and depressive attributes (e.g., cognitive biases). Study I involves a music listening experiment exploring the relationship between depression and aesthetic judgments in music. Findings indicate that depression is associated with higher ratings of aesthetic judgment, accompanied by an enhanced reliance on the expressivity criterion. However, this relationship is not accompanied by an association between depression and the Openness to Experience personality factor. Study II investigates emotion regulation with music in depressed individuals, by means of a survey. The study features a novel conceptual framework for studying emotion regulation with music, grounded on the established process model of emotion regulation (Gross, 2008) in combination with the music-specific multi-level GSTM approach (van Goethem & Sloboda, 2011). Results indicate that depressed individuals do not differ from controls in their “active” emotional responding (i.e., emotion regulation) to music. Study III features an experiment comparing depressed to controls’ “passive” emotional responses (i.e., emotional reactions) to musical stimuli designed to activate specific mechanisms (i.e., Brain stem reflex, Contagion, and Episodic memory). Findings suggest that differences in emotional reactions occur with respect to episodic memory, potentially due to cognitive biases. Finally, Study IV follows up on these results and investigates the valence and specificity of music-evoked memories in depressed individuals. The study finds that depressed participants’ memories are negatively biased, but do not differ from controls’ in level of specificity. Together, the findings of this thesis suggest that music listening may have a dual potential for depressed individuals, functioning both as a beneficial resource for alleviating depressive symptoms (due to, e.g., elevated aesthetic appreciation of music) and as a contributing factor to depressive mood (due to, e.g., negatively biased memories).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2018. p. 115
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 151
Keywords
depression, music listening, emotional reactions, emotion regulation, aesthetic judgment, cognitive bias, music-evoked autobiographical memories
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-339560 (URN)978-91-513-0221-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-03-22, Sal IV, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-02-19 Created: 2018-01-19 Last updated: 2018-03-07

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