Poster Presentation 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Pop Psych: The Impact Of Music And Lyrics On Emotion (#624)

Nathan L Jones 1
  1. School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

While the effects of music on emotion have been heavily researched, the added influence of lyrics is notoriously difficult to measure. Generally, negative music has been linked with decreased wellbeing and antisocial behaviour, but the specific contribution of lyrics remains largely unexplored. To further understand this interaction, original pop songs were written and produced to test the effect of lyrics while controlling for the effect of music. Using a 3x2 within-subject design, participants (N = 61) listened to songs in three categories – vitality, unease and sublimity. Each category had two versions with either positive or negative lyrics. 172 words (86 positive, 86 negative) were incorporated into the three song pairs. The track order was counterbalanced between participants. After each song, both perceived emotion (i.e. sentiment heard) and felt emotion (i.e. sentiment induced) was reported. Intended music emotions were accurately perceived by participants. Importantly, songs with negative lyrics led to lower feelings of prosociality than songs with positive lyrics. This is the first empirical demonstration that lyrics have an effect on felt emotion above and beyond music category. By using such stimuli in future research, the effects of music and lyrics could be harnessed to facilitate emotions associated with wellbeing.