Listening to music may modulate stress and mood in psychosocially stressful periods, according to results of a study published in JAMA Network Open.
Investigators from Austria and Italy recruited study participants via Facebook and Twitter for this study between April and May 2020. Individuals (N=711) with an Android smartphone or tablet responded to 5 ecological momentary assessment (EMA) prompts about their real-life experience and mood during strict COVID-19 lockdowns over a 7-day period. The effects of listening to music on mood were evaluated.
Participants had a median age of 27.0 (interquartile range [IQR], 24.0-36.0) years, 69.9% were women, 58.9% had a high level of education, and 33.7% were full-time students.
Among the 5244 EMA prompts, 21.1% were unanswered, indicating a 78.9% EMA compliance rate. At 23.8% of EMA prompts, participants reported listening to music.
Overall, the participants had a median Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) score of 19.0 (IQR, 13.0-24.0) points, Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) depression score of 7.0 (IQR, 4.0-11.0) points, EMA momentary stress score of 28.3 (IQR, 15.9-43.0) points, mean mood valence score of 63.3 (SD, 14.5) points, energetic arousal score of 50.7 (SD, 10.7) points, and calmness score of 61.7 (SD, 15.4) points.
Listening to music associated with higher energetic arousal (β, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.19-2.89; P <.001), increased mood valence (β, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.17-2.63; P <.001), greater calmness (β, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.60-2.17; P =.001), and decreased momentary stress (β, -0.92; 95% CI, -1.80 to -0.04; P =.04).
Significant interactions were observed between previous music listening with previous energetic arousal (β, -0.09; 95% CI, -0.13 to -0.04; P <.001) and previous music listening with previous stress level (β, -0.07; 95% CI, -0.11 to -0.02; P =.005).
Chronic stress moderated the association between music listening and energetic arousal (β, 0.015; 95% CI, 0.03-0.27; P =.01) as well as music listening and mood valence (β, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.02-0.22; P =.02).
The context of music had an effect, in which listening to happier music when mood valence was below the SD increased mood valence (β, -0.00; 95% CI, -0.01 to -0.00; P <.001) whereas listening to music with the motivation of distraction decreased mood valence (β, -0.19; 95% CI, -0.37 to -0.02; P =.03).
These findings may not be generalizable for the entire population, as these study participants were recruited using convenience sampling and were relatively young.
Study authors concluded, “Because music is highly popular across cultures and age groups and readily available at almost no cost, music listening can be considered a low-threshold intervention to improve health and wellbeing on the population level during times of crisis. The present study improves our understanding of stress and mood management using music during COVID-19-related lockdowns and revealed that individuals experiencing heightened momentary and/or chronic stress may experience the most benefit associated with music listening.”
Feneberg AC, Stijovic A, Forbes PAG, et al. Perceptions of stress and mood associated with listening to music in daily life during the COVID-19 lockdown. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(1):e2250382. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.50382