The effect of popular music on emotional reception of visual stimuli in middle school students

Magdalena Chęć, Maria Ligocka, Ewa Łodygowska, Jerzy Samochowiec, Agnieszka Samochowiec



Introduction: Among adolescents, the importance of music reveals itself in their subjective experience (feelings), expression and emotional behaviors, as well as their physiological reactions. Music is of particular value because it is accepted and liked by young people, it stimulates imagination, provides many aesthetic impressions and has a significant impact onthe personal experience of the listeners. Adolescents have their own preferences regarding music, conditioned by their personality or situational factors.

The primary purpose of this study is to determine the impact of different genres of music on experiencing emotions by young people.

Materials and methods: In the project we assumed that the effect of music depends on many factors, such as its genre and the age or gender of the listener. We argue that listening topopular music causes changes in teenagers’ emotions, the music genre determines the nature of invoked emotions and that gender differentiates perception of emotions depending onthe kind of music one is listening to. We conducted a psychological experiment with a questionnaire to assess the participants’ initial mood, upon which they were presented with athree minute music video (hip-hop, pop, or heavy metal, depending on the group) and asked to evaluate 21 IAPS pictures (The International Affective Picture System), then they filled out a self-designed questionnaire including questions on demographic data, music preferences, or potential hearing problems. The study involved 388 second and third-grade secondary school students from Szczecin.

Results: The experiment permitted identifying the cause and effect relationship between listening to music and emotions of the youth. It has been shown that in adolescents, listening to popular music evokes changes within emotions. These changes have more negative than positive effects on young people’s emotional reception of reality. In adolescents, gender has a differentiating function in the emotional reception of visual stimuli while listening to music.

Conclusions: The experiment results show that listening to a specific music genre during the period of adolescence can have an important and specific role in development and socio-emotional functioning, and also indicates the need for further research on this issue.


music; adolescence; emotions

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