No one loves their commute to and from work. Traffic buildups, accidents, bad and rude drivers, rain, faulty traffic lights, potholes all stress us out and by the time we arrive at work, we are ready to explode!
Not a great way to start or end each day so we try to manage this stress by tuning out the bad as we listen to our favorite music. Did you know that your choice of music could have an impact on your mood for up to two hours after your commute?
A study commissioned by Ford, with Spotify and New York University, discovered that not upbeat “happy” music can enhance our mood, but also gloomy music can boost the way we feel for up to two hours after our commute.
Energy and Valence
To test the moods, various playlists were created for the drivers to listen to and they had to answer a questionnaire before and after their morning commute. The study found two common characteristics Energy (the tempo) and Valence (the emotion) across the tracks that work together to alter the mood. While we expect that “high-valence” songs to make us happy, what is interesting is that even melancholy songs like “Sorry”, Justin Bieber; “The Winner Takes it All”, Abba; and “Mr Brightside” by The Killers can actually be good mood enhancers.
Amy Belfi, a cognitive neuroscientist from New York University who is an expert on the effects of music on the brain explains that:
“high level of energy left our testers feeling pumped up for the day ahead. What was particularly intriguing was that far from having to be ‘happy’ songs those most likely to have an uplifting effect could equally be brooding and melancholic. Of course, ‘sad’ songs can actually make us feel good about ourselves. They may remind us, for example, of difficult experiences that we have overcome and learned from.”
Spotify’s Koppel Verma, who advised on the research project said that:
“For this experiment we focused on how ‘energy’ and ‘valence’ music attributes can affect mood throughout the day. This study showed that not only energetic happy pop songs work in the morning. In fact, when we analysed our existing commuter playlists data we found that many of them contained a high number of songs with melancholic moods. This is significant because previous research has shown us that the morning commute is an important transitional time – now we can use our data to help set the tone for the day ahead.”
So next time you head out into the traffic, throw on some “Back to Black”, Amy Winehouse and “Everybody’s Changing”, Keane and start the day on a happy note!
You can check out the playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/fordeurope/playlist/7wDem20vUWwgKv7NaohGmF