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The Role of Music in Mood and Behavior

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The Role of Music in Mood and Behavior

Group 6
Abigail Brockman (Classical)

Angela Mion (Punk)

Brittany Benson (Rap/Hip Hop)

Grant Ison (Intro/Closing)

Mallory Polak (Country)

Tyler Probst (Rock/Metal)
EDP 101 B


Everyone feels emotion and everyone has different ways of dealing with or expressing their emotions. Many people use music to do such things. Music can evoke extreme feeling in people. It can also affect the behavior of people. Most music listeners find music that soothes them or heeds to their emotion although sometimes the music can control the emotion of the listener.
The Role of Music in Mood and Behavior
The evolution of rap music is something America has witnessed in the last 20 years. Its recent evolution has created an entire new genre, which are attracting more and more young adults as the years continue. The origin of rap, which is a part of the “Hip Hop” culture, can be traced back to the Bronx in New York City. Rhodes (2008) This music evolved from gangs who used graffiti, this graffiti became an art form where people would spray pant in order to reveal their emotion. Soon this artistic style became incorporated into beats and lyrics, which today is known as rap.
Music has the ability to elicit emotion from its listeners: happiness, sadness, relaxation, frustration and aggression are feelings conjured up by music. Levitin (2006) Research has been done to reveal that the violent and sexist lyrics found in rap music is a stimulus for aggressive behavior. Since music drives emotion the violent angry lyrics presented by rap music elicits an aggressive attitude. Sexism, like violence, is revealed in rap songs; however contrary to certain opinions rap songs do not create sexist opinions. The songs do however activate awareness of sexist beliefs that already existed in the listeners brain and thus evoke a mental association between rap music and sexist attitudes. Burns (2001) This aggressive emotion is witnessed when working out or dancing at bars because of the energetic affect aggression has on the listener. A study found that this excited and energetic behavior is a result of certain high rhythmic meters, which are present in hip-hop and rap music. Burns (2001) Young adults are listening to rap music as opposed to classical music because classical music is incapable of expressing the emotions or moods that young adults experience in life. The lyrics absent in classical music but present in the rap and hip hop music, relate to the lives of young adults. Listeners, specifically young adults, like to relate lyrics to their lives because it reveals a reality and elicits emotion that exists in their everyday lives. Therefore rap is more powerful in affecting the moods of young adult listeners.
Classical music is a form of music that originated or relates to European music from the later half of the 18th century and the early 19th century (“The free”). This type of music plays a major role with our emotions and mood. Music in general but especially classical music has been know to calm and revitalize someone in a way that other things such as a nap cannot. Some types of classical music are listened to because they give someone a sense of power. Usually, a person picks music based on the mood they are in (“How Music”). For example, classical music has a calming effect. It can bring mental relief and healing to someone in distress. “Dr Clevens at Orlando cosmetic surgery believes that classical music helps to calm patients prior to any surgery” (“Music Affects”)

Classical music is not only used to soothe and calm a person but has also been linked with reducing crime and increasing spending habits. In 2004, in London, England the British transport system began playing classical music in their underground transportation stations located in some of the roughest and most unsafe neighborhoods. Music had been played in these areas for six months and the results were astonishing; the rate of vandalism dropped by 37 percent, robberies by 33 percent, and staff assaults by 25 percent. This isn’t the only place that classical music was used to turn bad behavior around. It was also used in West Palm Beach, Florida. The police installed a compact disc player into an abandon building where many crimes had taken place previously. The music played included Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, playing composers like these lead to a decrease in shootings, thefts, loiterers and drug deals. Classical music obviously has a major impact on the brain and people’s mood. With the rates of crime falling in England and Florida some emotion is being associated with it (“How Classical”). Maybe crimes aren’t being committed because classical music calms and relaxes someone that was previously angry and upset (Davis & Palladino, 2006, pp 255).

Classical music also plays a role in a person’s spending habits. "Music can help shape customers' time perception, lower sales resistance and increase willingness to spend," says James Kellaris, a marketing professor at the University of Cincinnati” (“How Classical”). The complexity of classical music is known to make the brain work harder which in turn causes it to overcompensate and make some feel as though they have been in a store for much less time then they really have. The music can also make it complicated for shoppers to use their critical thinking skills when deciding whether or not to buy a certain item. Resulting in more time spent in the store, buying more items and spending more money. Classical music plays a very big role on peoples emotions and the actions they cause them to make.
To determine how rock music effects our emotions and moods we decided to take matters into our own hands. Instead of going off other people’s information and experiments we decided to set up our own little experiment. Four people were chosen to sit down and listen to the Linkin Park, a heavy rock band, song “Crawling”. They were told to listen to the song and after it was finished to write down how they were feeling and what was going through their head while listening to the music. In all four cases the subject claimed they either had feelings of anger, an Adrenaline rush, or excitement. This is exactly the feeling I believe rock music has intended for its listeners. The intense instrumentals, the loud screechy vocals, and the in your face provocative lyrics are what makes rock music what it is today. It reaches its audience and has this overwhelming effect making the heart race to extreme levels. In a survey done by, they asked over 300 people to determine how rock music affects their moods. In this research 29% said that the music makes them have an anger mood swing. On the other end of the spectrum, 64% of all people said that rock music puts them in a happy mood. People like to get a release from their real life issues or problems and rock out to heavy metal rock and roll. Whatever problem a person might be dealing with, rock can give them the much needed pump up and adrenaline rush to help relieve the stress they are dealing with. In an article about how music affects your moods the author says, “Music has the power to elevate our moods above our worries and relieve debilitating depression”. This is the perfect example of how rock music works. Rock music gives the brain a rush that makes you forget about anything else in your life. Also stated in the article is that listening to different instrumentals gives the mind a breath of fresh air. The instrumentals used in rock music are not the most soothing, but when a person actually listens to the music being played, they can appreciate the great amount of talent behind it.

Appreciating everything that goes into rock and roll music can be very good for a person’s moods and emotions. Rock music can have a different effect on different people. Anything from making a person happy, sad, mad, annoyed, or pumped up can arise from a rock and roll jam. That is why rock music is important for people who want to get away from everything and get rid of all their worries.

Punk music has its effect on the' masses as well. Traditionally punk music gathers it’s authenticity with depression and emotional distress embellished in its lyrics. Teenagers can associate especially with this type of music because it tells of the hardships and animosity between them and authority (the government, parents, employers). Even for kids that aren’t severely troubled, punk rock has become a medium for distress, rebellion, and rejection to conformity.

This emotional distress rebellion provokes a lot of questions about the emotional and psychological effects punk music has on people. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the adolescent suicide rate has about tripled since the 1950's, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people 15 to 24. Each year about 5,000 young people kill themselves, and even more make attempts ( Azerrad 2).

Teenagers idolize and listen to their favorite bands, sometimes more than their parents. Punk music serves as an outlet to escape the abuse and hardships of the real world. But some people may take the escape too far. In May of 2000, when police found the hanging body of the Columbine shooting survivor Greg Barnes, Blink 182’s “Adam Song” had been playing on repeat. A 1999 Surgeon General's report concluded that ''suicide can be facilitated in vulnerable teens by exposure to real or fictional accounts of suicide.” (Azerrad 3).

On the other hand punk music has had positive effects on individuals. Punk music provides a supporting community for people that feel alienated by society. A lot of kids are depressed about school and friends, so instead of listening to happy music; punk music actually makes them feel better because it’s something sadder than they are. (Azerrrad 3)

Country singer Faith Hill once said, "Country music is the people's music. It just speaks about real life and about truth and it tells things how they really are." Bryan White once said, "Country Music is great music because it really comes from real life experiences. It is such a great haven for reality.", and Harlan Howard once said, "Country music is three chords and the truth." This, the reality, the honestly, the truth; that is what is so appealing the people that love country music. It is human nature to want companionship; to feel that, even though we are all individuals, we are not alone. That is why people are attracted to country music, because it speaks their souls and works as a mirror to reflect their emotions and feelings back at them. However, this is not always a positive thing. Sure, country music, like all music, has strong messages in it that people often cling to get themselves through hard times; but country music, like all music, has it darker side.

            Popular country music singer Dierks Bentley once said, "Country music has always been the best shrink that 15 bucks can buy." Well, maybe someone might be better off not buying that CD and instead saving up for a real shrink, "…content analysis of country music songs often suggests that country music fans may have elevated suicide risk to the extent that their life styles

mirror the life styles found in the songs.." This may seem odd, because country music has such a huge following of people that are such diehard fans how always seem so happy to be at concerts and meet their ideals; and it is roll'n roll's history that is littered with drug over doses and self-induced fatal gunshot wounds.  One source says that musical preference can be associated with a personality of a person. It says that people who like country music are, "emotionally stable.", and then goes on to say, "On the face of it, this is bizarre really because country music is all about heartache. Either the emotionally stable are attracted to country music or it has a calming effect on the unstable!" Research seems to support the latter. It is not just that the song about heartache, unrequited love, lost lovers, and general nostalgia alone cause country music listeners to commit suicide. Once source states that, "Country music is hypothesized to nurture a suicidal mood through its concerns with problems common in the suicidal population, such as marital discord, alcohol abuse, and alienation from work." The same source makes the claim that, "analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate. The effect is independent of divorce, southernness, poverty, and gun
availability.", and that, "The existence of a country music subculture is thought to reinforce the link between country music and suicide."

While these sources due make valid points and are able to be understood logically by someone who listens to country music, both fanatically and sporadically. These sources in no way are  no way saying that if a perfectly mentally and emotionally stable person hears one country song about any of those sorted problems above, he or she is going to want to put a gun to his or her head. Nor are they trying to claim that all people who listen to country music religiously are unstable and likely to "bite the bullet", in the most literal sense of the term. All these informants are trying to say is that, "…the themes found in country music foster a suicidal mood among people already at risk of suicide and that it is thereby associated with a high suicide rate." Country music, like all other music genres, is not perfect. People will argue that Hip-Hop objectifies women, Rock'n Roll supports drug usage, and Rap (Gangster Rap) promotes violence. Regardless of all of this, people still listen to and love these different types of music.

Levintin says that music effects our emotion just as much as living everyday life does. He says that the pulse and meter of music effects the emotion of everyone (168). Through our research we discovered that this is completely accurate. All of us can agree that listening to music helps to enhance our feelings and emotions. The way the music sounds plays a big part in the way people react and feel when they are done listening. Music is apart of human emotion in every way.

Works Cited

Levitin, D. J. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York, NY: Dutton

Davis, S. F. & Palladino, J. J. (2007). Psychology (5th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Azerrad, Michael. (2004). Punk’s Earnest New Mission. New York Times.
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