Negative Emotion in Music: What is the Attraction? A Qualitative Study

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Title: Negative Emotion in Music: What is the Attraction? A Qualitative Study
Creators: Garrido, Sandra; Schubert, Emery
Keywords: music
negative valence
Issue Date: 2011-10
Publisher: Empirical Musicology Review
Citation: Empirical Musicology Review, v6 n4 (Oct. 2011), 214-230
Abstract: Why do people listen to music that evokes negative emotions? This paper presents five comparative interviews conducted to examine this question. Individual differences psychology and mood management theory provided a theoretical framework for the investigation which was conducted under a realist paradigm. Data sources were face-to-face interviews of about one hour involving a live music listening experience. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted and both within-case and cross-case analyses were performed. Results confirmed the complexity of variables at play in individual cases while supporting the hypothesis that absorption and dissociation make it possible for the arousal experienced when listening to sad music to be enjoyed without displeasure. At the same time, participants appeared to be seeking a variety of psychological benefits such as reflecting on life-events, enjoying emotional communion, or engaging in a process of catharsis. A novel finding was that maladaptive mood regulation habits may cause some to listen to sad music even when such benefits are not being obtained, supporting some recent empirical evidence on why people are attracted to negative emotion in music.
Series/Report no.: EMR000125a
ISSN: 1559-5749
Other Identifiers: EMR000125a
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