A James Cook University researcher has found many people use music to help deal with work and social stress – but less often to cope with life’s other unpleasantries.
JCU psychology lecturer Dr Amanda Krause, along with colleagues from JCU, Curtin University and Edith Cowan University, surveyed more than 550 people in Australia, Malaysia and the USA about their use of music as a coping mechanism.
“In particular, we examined the use of music listening to cope with different types of everyday stressors and examined the relationship between this and listener characteristics,” said Dr Krause.
The scientists identified five types of everyday stressors among the panel: social, financial, performance responsibilities, work-related, and daily displeasures (general dislike of daily activities).
“We found people listened to music significantly more often to cope with social and work-related stressors than performance responsibilities and daily displeasures,” said Dr Krause.
She said previous studies had shown the extent to which listening to music is effective in reducing stress is unique to each individual, with age and gender influencing how individuals respond and musical preferences and the genre of music influencing stress reduction.
“For example, people with emotional responses to music are likely to experience catharsis and mood regulation more often when listening to music,” said Dr Krause.
She said a growing body of research demonstrates the role of music in promoting health and well-being.
“The utility of music for distracting the listener from perceived pain, stress and anxiety within healthcare settings is well documented; it’s been established that patients who listen to music prior to surgery require less sedation,” said Dr Krause.
She said it is important to understand the effects that our everyday experiences with music may have on us, particularly in regard to influences on our health and well-being.
“That is especially important with advances in technology leading to an increase in music listening that is, in turn, increasingly under our own control.”