Sad music is good for you, says new study

Appreciation of sad music is enhanced if you are emotionally distressed, empathic or unstable

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The Independent Culture

It turns out there's a reason why sad people listen to sad music: it makes them feel better.

According to a new study, sad songs evoke complex emotional reactions that lead to a feelings of relief and fulfillment.

Researchers from the Free University of Berlin surveyed 722 people around the world and found that sad music more than happy music "can actually lead to beneficial emotional effects".

It achieves this by providing the listener with four different rewards: imagination, emotion regulation, empathy and 'no real-life' implications.

Nostalgia rather than misery is most often triggered by sad music, with the study finding that "memory-related processes are central in music-evoked sadness".

In the US and in Europe, listeners reported feelings of nostalgia when listening to sad music whereas in Asia they said they felt at "peace".

The study explained: "The average number of emotions that participants reported to have experienced in response to sad music was above three.

"This suggests that a multifaceted emotional experience elicited by sad music enhances its aesthetic appeal."

In their conclusion, published in the journal Plos One, Stefan Koelsch and Liila Taruffi said: "The fact that people seek and appreciate sadness in music may appear paradoxical, given the strong popular and scientific emphasis on happiness as a source of personal well-being."

They also reported that "appreciation of sad music is enhanced when listeners are experiencing emotional distress, as well as among individuals with high empathy and low emotional stability."