Why Some People are Drawn to Sad Music and Others Can’t Relate

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Do you know at least one person who enjoys listening to sad songs and wonders why they are so drawn to it? It’s a bit puzzling because sadness isn’t usually something we seek. Sad music, though, has a way of making some people feel nostalgic and thoughtful.

Sadness isn’t typically seen as a positive emotion, so why do some people find pleasure in listening to music that brings on the feels? This curious phenomenon is called the paradox of pleasurable sadness, Or simply sadness paradox. It boils down to finding satisfaction or even pleasure in listening to sorrowful tunes. But how does this work? Well, it turns out it’s not a simple answer, and scientists are still figuring it out. Although more research  has been poured into why people are drawn to sad music. 

According to psychologists, people’s reactions to sad music are influenced by various factors such as their ability to disconnect from reality, how absorbed they get in their thoughts, their imagination, empathy, and how much they dwell on things. There’s no universal answer to why people are drawn to sad tunes.

One big reason people like sad music is because it can bring back memories. Sad songs often trigger nostalgic feelings, taking us back to moments from the past. This revisiting of memories can improve our mood, especially if those memories are tied to important moments in our lives. Nostalgia, in general, helps us cope with changes and gives us hope for the future. So, the connection between sad music and nostalgia makes a strong case for why some people enjoy it.

Sad Music Surprising Has Its Benefit– even though it’s sad, it can still be a pleasurable experience

Listening to sad music goes a long way to help someone going through a tough time by letting them express their feelings, according to this study. This process makes them feel calm and even amazed by the connection they have with the song.

Sad music is also believed to make the brain release a hormone called prolactin, which can make feelings of grief lessen. Even if the sadness is from the music and not a real-life sad event, the hormone induces happiness. It’s like sad music tricks our brain into making us feel good by releasing this hormone, giving us a mix of good vibes.

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People who are more understanding of others’ feelings, known as empathetic people, tend to enjoy sad music more. They appreciate the emotions and beauty in the music. But since empathetic people feel emotions strongly, it’s intriguing how they enjoy sad music without getting overwhelmed by the sadness. A study from 2014 explains that the sadness from music happens because we “catch” the emotions, and the pleasure that comes from finding the music beautiful. So, it’s possible to feel both pleasure and sadness when listening to sad music.

But Not Everyone Behaves in This Paradoxical Manner — that is, not everyone enjoys notes of melancholy

Even more intriguing…

Your music choice often mirrors your mood. But if you’re feeling down, wouldn’t listening to sad tunes make you even sadder? It turns out, sad music can actually feel like a friend offering support and understanding, especially after a tough time. It’s like having an actual or imaginary companion in the same mood, helping you cope with sad feelings.

Although, in 2016, researchers from the U.K. and Finland organized a survey involving nearly 2,500 people to explore how reactions to music can differ from person to person. Interestingly, not everyone finds comfort in sad music.

Yet, a recent study discovered that people dealing with ongoing sadness due to clinical depression might also prefer sad music. Surprisingly, it’s not because of the emotion in the music but because sad tunes usually have a calming, low-energy vibe that helps them relax.

However, not everyone follows this pattern of enjoying melancholic notes. Given how closely music is tied to our emotions, music therapy is famous  for helping individuals manage their mental health. This therapeutic approach is believed to lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, and reach parts of the brain that traditional therapy methods may not reach. 

Why Some People Can’t Relate to Sad Music

Music’s impact is intricately tied to personal associations, with researchers suggesting that one’s connection to a musical piece can be influenced by life events. For some, such as those who have experienced painful relationships, these associations can evoke painful memories, hindering their enjoyment of the music. 

According to a study co-authored by Henna-Riikka Peltola from Finland told science daily some people link sad music to emotionally taxing experiences, with this connection being more pronounced in women, although the reasons remain unclear. Surprisingly, the study revealed that 10-17% of respondents experienced heightened negative emotions when exposed to sad music, leaving them not only in a worsened mood but also feeling irritated, fatigued, and anxious.

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Some individuals intentionally choose sad music as a form of “maladaptive mood-regulation strategy,” hoping to intensify emotions for a cathartic release. However, this approach, instead of providing relief, tends to prolong their negative emotional state. The likability of this musical genre remains subjective, but the enduring presence of sad songs still drive ongoing research to discover complexities of human perception and emotions tied to music.

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