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.
- Blood pressure
- Happy music
- Positive affect
- Relaxing music
- Stress recovery