Music makes us feel more powerful

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Music creates a sense of power. You might already sense this: you pop on your headset at the gym and suddenly you kick it into high gear, running farther, faster and even enjoying it. A new study shows that the effect is not in your imagination. Blasting some music, especially if it has high levels of bass makes us feel more powerful.

Getting pumped for competition

Dennis Hsu of the Kellogg school of Management at Northwestern University was inspired to study the phenomenon by watching athletes prep for competition. “The ways these athletes immerse themselves in the music – some with their eyes steely shut and some gently nodded along the beats – seem as if the music is mentally preparing and toughening them up for the competition about to occur,” noted Hsu. He wanted to know if the music helped the athlete feel more powerful and better able to compete.

”We Will Rock You” rated most powerful

Study participants were asked to listen to 31 different pieces of music and rate how powerful they felt after each. Researchers looked at how the songs affected three consequences of power: thought abstraction (ability to see the big picture), illusion of control (over events), and desire to make the first move in a competitive environment. The result of the study was that the songs rated most powerful by the participants also encouraged a sense of power within them. The songs actively generated the three consequences of power within the volunteers.

Bass levels particularly relevant to feeling of power

Hsu and his team then tested bass levels in music by digitally varying instrumental music. They found that the participants who listened to music with heavy bass reported higher feelings of power.

Try using music strategically

“Although significantly more research needs to be done before we can truly begin to understand music’s effects on our psychological experiences, I believe our findings provide initial evidence for the potential strategic use of music, especially in situations where people need to feel empowered,” concluded Hsu.

Source: Honor Whiteman/MedicalNewsToday


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