For the study, researchers had participants fill out a survey about how often listening to music gave them goosebumps, shivers down their spine, and the urge to cry. Researchers then split participants into two groups: those who cried, and those who got chills. All participants listened to six songs that elicited an emotional response from them (three of which they picked themselves) and reported each time they felt their particular reaction — tears or chills.
When they felt either of those reactions, they were directed to press a button and move a mouse on a screen to show how much pleasure they were experiencing while the researchers monitored their heart rate and any other signs of emotional arousal.
Those in the “chills-down-your-spine” group read their songs as both happy and sad, while those who teared up over their songs reported only finding them sad. But interestingly enough, both groups reported feeling pleasure and even experienced deeper breathing while listening to their songs — indicating that sad music really can be cathartic when you’re letting your emotions out.
So the next time you’re feeling a little blue for any reason, give yourself some time to lay in bed and cry it out to something that’s in tune with your mood.
By Kimberly Truong