Music and psychophysiological recovery from stress

Mirjam Radstaak*, Sabine A.E. Geurts, Jos F.B. Rosschot, Michiel A.J. Kompier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: This experimental study examined whether listening to self-chosen music after stress exposure improves mood, decreases subjective arousal and rumination, and facilitates cardiovascular recovery.

Method: Participants (N = 123) were exposed to a mental arithmetic task with harassment to induce stress. Afterward, participants were randomly assigned to one of four "recovery" conditions where they (1) listened to self-chosen relaxing music, (2) listened to self-chosen happy music, (3) listened to an audio book, or (4) sat in silence. After this 5-minute "recovery manipulation period," participants sat in silence for another 5 minutes. Systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate were continuously measured.

Results: The recovery conditions caused differences in positive affect (F(3,119) = 13.13, p <.001) and negative affect (F(3,119) = 2.69, p =.049). As expected, mood improved while listening to either relaxing music or happy music. The conditions showed no differences in subjective arousal (F(3,117) = 2.03, p =.11) and rumination (F(3,119) = 1.10, p =.35). Systolic blood pressure recovery, however, differed between the conditions (linear time trend: F(3,116) = 4.50, p =.005; quadratic time trend: F(3,115) = 5.24, p =.002). Listening to both relaxing and happy music delayed systolic blood pressure recovery when compared with both control conditions.

Conclusions: Listening to self-selected music is an effective mood enhancer, but it delays blood pressure recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Arousal
  • Blood pressure
  • Happy music
  • Positive affect
  • Relaxing music
  • Stress recovery


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