The adaptive functions of music listening: structure, correlates, and consequences
Groarke, Jennifer M.
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The current thesis involves three studies employing qualitative, quantitative and experimental methods to examine the relationship between music listening and wellbeing. Study 1 used the collective intelligence methodology, Interactive Management (IM), to identify the functions of music listening (FML). Four IM sessions were conducted, two with younger adults (N = 24, 18-29 years, M = 22.49, SD = 2.25, 8 males) and two with older adults (N = 19, 60-75 years, M = 65.86, SD = 4.47, 10 males). Participants generated, clarified, and structured FML they believed were most significant for enhancing wellbeing. Four structural models were generated highlighting potential interdependencies between FML in the context of wellbeing enhancement. Age differences emerged in the FML considered adaptive, with younger adults highlighting social connection and affect regulation and older adults highlighting more eudaimonic functions of music (e.g., transcendence and personal growth). Study 2 reports on the development of a new measure of music listening functions: The Adaptive Functions of Music Listening Scale. In a sample of 1191 participants (17-66 years, M = 22.04, SD = 6.23, 326 males) tests of dimensionality revealed a 46-item scale with 11 factors. Namely, Stress Regulation, Anxiety Regulation, Anger Regulation, Loneliness Regulation, Rumination, Reminiscence, Strong Emotional Experiences, Awe and Appreciation, Cognitive Regulation, Identity, and Sleep FML. Reliability of the scale and its subscales was high. Consistent with the view that adaptive FML are positively related to wellbeing, a number of factors were significantly positively correlated with subjective, psychological, and social wellbeing measures. Study 3 evaluated the efficacy of self-chosen music listening for the function of affect regulation with a sample of both younger and older adults. Forty younger (18-30 years, M = 19.75, SD = 2.57, 14 males) and forty older (60-81 years, M = 68.48, SD = 6.07, 21 males) adults visited the laboratory and were randomised to either the intervention (10 minutes of listening to self-chosen music) or the active control condition (10 minutes of listening to a radio documentary). Negative affect (NA) was induced in all participants using the Trier Social Stress Test, followed by the intervention/control condition. Measures of self-reported affect were taken at baseline, post-induction and post-intervention. Examining reduction in induced NA as the dependent variable: a 2 (group: control, intervention) x 2 (age: younger, older adult) ANCOVA controlling for baseline affect and reactivity to the NA induction found significant main effects of group, with the music listening group experiencing greater reductions in NA across a range of discrete measures including Stress Regulation, Nervous Regulation, Upset Regulation, Sadness Regulation and Depressed Affect Regulation. Analyses also found significant main effects for age, with older adults experiencing greater reductions of NA than younger adults, regardless of condition. Together these studies suggest a positive role for music listening in wellbeing enhancement, particularly with regard to the regulation of affective experiences.
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