When everything is going wrong, there’s nothing like listening to a few melancholy bars of your favorite sad song. But why do we find pleasure in sad music? If the goal is to stay upbeat, why would we ever choose to listen to, say, Adele’s “Someone Like You” over Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”?
The conundrum puzzled two researchers at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany who set out to explore our affinity for sad songs in a world where entire industries exist to help us eliminate sadness from our lives.
Their study— based on a survey of more than 770 people around the world and published this month in the journal, PLOS ONE — discovered sad music can evoke positive emotions, like peacefulness and tenderness, and offers four distinct rewards for choosing that weepy ballad on your iPod.
“People turn to sad music for comfort, and to deal with bad feelings, but also simply for pleasure,” Liila Taruffi, one of the authors, told TODAY. “(Sad music has) potential to regulate negative moods and emotions, as well as to provide consolation… In this sense, sad music can play a role in well-being.” Read more