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The Power of Music

It is probably no news to many that music affects us at a deep level. It can take us out of our despair or help us to indulge in it. It is nostalgic, uplifting, annoying, pleasing and new research says music is also empowering.

It has already been proven that music helps to motivate people, increase their learning potential and even reduce pain. What’s new, is researchers at the Northwestern University in Evanston (Illinois) now add that if you are off to do something that might be a little stressful such as a job interview, meeting with a client, even a first date, it might be beneficial to listen to music before you go, especially music with a high level of bass.

Participants in the research listened to 30-second clips of 31 pieces of music including sports music, hip-hop and reggae and were asked to rate how powerful each piece of music made them feel. A series of tests were then conducted to assess how the highest and lowest rated power songs influenced each participant’s sense of power. Additional tests were done to see how these songs affected three psychological and behavioral consequences of power identified in previous research: thought abstraction (tendency to see the forest instead of the trees), illusion of control (perceived control over social events) and the desire to make the first move in competitive environments.

The most powerful songs included such anthems as ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen and the least powerful included ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ by Baha Men. And it wasn’t the lyrics that made a song powerful, it was the beat. In fact, when participants read out song lyrics without hearing the music, no powerful feelings were reported. The participants who listened to music with heavy bass reported higher feelings of power compared with those who listened to music with low bass.

References
Hsu, DH. Huang, L. et al. The Music of Power: Perceptual and Behavioral Consequences of Powerful Music
Social Psychological and Personality Science August 5, 2014.
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