Date of Award
Master of Music (MM)
School of Music
Andrea M. Crimmins
Hogue (2013) tested some of Levinson's (1997) theoretical ideas about why people like listening to songs that make them sad. Particularly, Hogue tested Levinson's ideas of communion, mediation, savoring feeling, and how absorption interacted with the songs to affect communion and the emotion. Hogue, however, did not use musical stimuli that were familiar to the participants, which is a precursor to Levinson's (1997) theory. This thesis retested Levinson's theory comparing familiar songs against unfamiliar songs and songs from another participant.
Data were collected from 82 participants. Each participant provided songs that induced happiness and songs that induced sadness. Participants listened to their self-selected songs (familiar), the self-selected songs from the prior participant, and songs that the experimenter chose for everyone to hear (unfamiliar songs). For each type of song, the participants listened to a song that induced happiness and a song that induced sadness. After listening to each song, the participants rated how much emotion (happiness and sadness) and how much satisfaction they had. They also rated how much they liked each song and how much they connected to each song. Also, some participants rated how much they could absorb themselves in music before listening to the songs, but others did so after listening to the songs.
Results showed that the participants connected with the familiar songs more than they did with the prior-participant and unfamiliar songs, but that they connected with the familiar songs that induced sadness equally as much as they did with the familiar songs that induced happiness. Sadness mediated the effect that the song on how much the participants connected to the song. Satisfaction predicted liking songs that induced sadness. Finally, absorption did not interact with the songs to influence inducing the emotion or how much they connected with the song.
These results supported Levinson's (1997) ideas of communion and the mediated process that the songs influence the emotion, which influences the amount of communion. It did not, however, completely support the idea that satisfaction lessened the severity of sadness on liking the song (savoring feeling) or the idea that absorption would affect the emotions and communion. These results did not support all of Hogue's (2013) findings, showing that people respond to familiar songs differently than they do to unfamiliar songs.
Hogue, John D., ""Sing Me a Sad Song and Make Me Feel Better": Exploring Rewards Related to Liking Familiar Sad Music" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 469.