Have you ever listened to the same song over and over and over again? Maybe it’s your first time hearing it, and you love it so much that you can’t resist playing it a few more times. Or maybe it’s a classic that’s been around for decades and every now and then you play it on repeat. In either case, the song clearly brings you a lot of joy.
And chances are, it’s one of your favorites. While that doesn’t make any difference to your annoyed sister sitting in the passenger seat of your car or your friends who are insisting a song change, it does make for some recently discovered mental health benefits that’ll inspire you to play it again!
A new study from the University of Michigan, “Extreme re-listening: Songs people love… and continue to love,” says that listening to your favorite song over and over again can provide you with some serious comfort. This “niche listening” leads to the development of a meaningful relationship with a specific song, which allows for your love of the tune to reach great measures and persist even after you’ve listened to it hundreds of times over.
Researchers reached these findings after 204 study participants completed an online questionnaire about their experience listening to their favorite song. This questionnaire inquired about how the song made them feel, as well as how often participants listened to the song—responses varied, but the mean was more than 300 times. This number was even larger for those who reported having a deep connection with the song, such as bittersweet feelings attached.
Around 86% of the study subjects said they listen to their favorite song every single day or at least a few times each week. And forty-three percent of those who listened to the song daily reported replaying it several times throughout the day. Furthermore, 60% listened to the song multiple times in a row, and about 6% said they had a serious urge to listen to the song prior to playing it.
Furthermore, while the subjects’ favorite songs varied in genre, the majority were either pop or rock songs. Jason Corey, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of music, explains that certain features explained why respondents listened to the songs so often. The most important? A song’s melody, beat, and lyrics. For songs that made listeners feel happy, such as the pop songs, beat was particularly significant.
You’d think that after a few hundred plays, one would get sick of the same song. Frederick Conrad, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology, explains that this isn’t always the case: “Niche listening may enable listeners to develop the kind of personally meaningful relationships with particular songs that allow their affection for those songs to persist across very large amounts of exposure.”
University of Michigan (2018, February 16). Play it Again: People Find Comfort Listening to the Same Song Over and Over. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved February 16, 2018 from Play it Again: People Find Comfort Listening to the Same Songs Over and Over
Conrad, F., Corey, J., & Goldstein, S. (2018, January 30). Extreme re-listening: Songs people love… and continue to love. Psychology of Music. Retrieved on February 16, 2018 from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305735617751050
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