Listening to sad music might affect human attention processes – novel findings from a Maastricht University online study

Listening to sad music might affect human attention processes – novel findings from a Maastricht University online study

Listening to music might be just as prevalent as the daily bike ride to university, the daily car ride to work, or the daily walk through a park on a sunny day. From grocery shopping to sports, from cooking to taking a shower, music vastly accompanies all our daily lives. While we take music for granted and likely do not spend a second thought on the musical pieces we are exposed to, we should be aware of the possible effects of diverse music on perceptual and attentive processes.

A currently ongoing study at Maastricht University offers a closer look at the effects of positively and negatively-valenced musical pieces on basic local and global attention processes by means of an online study. While positive musical pieces are agreed upon by general scientific consensus to broaden global attention, negatively-valenced, such as sad musical pieces might alter attentive processes in a local, narrowing way. A student group from Maastricht University assesses these effects, using an altered, self-created version of the renowned Navon Task, established by psychologist David Navon.

The assessment of musical pieces using perception on a digital platform offers potential for crucial real-world applications: how strong is the effect of sad music on narrow, local attention? Might there be a correlation between traffic accidents and drivers listening to sad music at the time of the occurrence? Is someone listening to negatively-valenced music more likely to disregard their surroundings while being more focused on the self? How long-lasting is the effect of emotionally-valenced auditory pieces?

The study at hand depicts potential to shed light on these questions, while providing crucial incremental value to real-world exertions. This incremental value is not restricted to the scientific field, but opens room for possible real-world safety implications concerning all of us, while further raising interest towards everyday modulatory effects on attention.

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