Title of Abstract

Emotional Responses to Happy, Sad, and Sexual Lyrics in Music

Poster Number

6

Submitting Student(s)

Taylor Jones
Carl Benjamin Jr.

Session Title

Poster Session 1

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Abstract

We focused on adults’ emotional response to lyrics presented without the accompanying music. We hypothesized that participants’ mood would change in the direction of the emotional content of the lyrics. Participants were adults with a mean age of 25.10 (SD=10.47). The majority were women (57%), and participants were almost evenly divided between Caucasian and Black American. Participants began by providing information about their current emotional affect. Then, participants were randomly assigned to read musical lyrics. The conditions varied with the lyrics being happy, sad, or sexual. Participants provided their emotional affect again and then responded to a scale about their use of music to manage mood. Our hypothesis was supported for our sad condition, but not for our happy and sexual conditions. Participants who read sad lyrics became sadder. Adults in the sexual condition had a mood change to become less negative. Perhaps the explicit lyrics increased their general (not necessarily sexual) arousal and distracted them from negative feelings. Younger people felt more negative after reading the lyrics. One explanation might be that they disliked the process of reading music, an idea supported by the fact that people who enjoyed reading the lyrics also reported a mood lift. Caucasian adults reported using music to elicit strong sensations. Thus, it might not be surprising that they did not respond as positively to the music-less and relatively short lyrics as did Black American adults. These findings are a first step to unpack how the separate components of music influence mood.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

Emotional Responses to Happy, Sad, and Sexual Lyrics in Music

We focused on adults’ emotional response to lyrics presented without the accompanying music. We hypothesized that participants’ mood would change in the direction of the emotional content of the lyrics. Participants were adults with a mean age of 25.10 (SD=10.47). The majority were women (57%), and participants were almost evenly divided between Caucasian and Black American. Participants began by providing information about their current emotional affect. Then, participants were randomly assigned to read musical lyrics. The conditions varied with the lyrics being happy, sad, or sexual. Participants provided their emotional affect again and then responded to a scale about their use of music to manage mood. Our hypothesis was supported for our sad condition, but not for our happy and sexual conditions. Participants who read sad lyrics became sadder. Adults in the sexual condition had a mood change to become less negative. Perhaps the explicit lyrics increased their general (not necessarily sexual) arousal and distracted them from negative feelings. Younger people felt more negative after reading the lyrics. One explanation might be that they disliked the process of reading music, an idea supported by the fact that people who enjoyed reading the lyrics also reported a mood lift. Caucasian adults reported using music to elicit strong sensations. Thus, it might not be surprising that they did not respond as positively to the music-less and relatively short lyrics as did Black American adults. These findings are a first step to unpack how the separate components of music influence mood.