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Psychosom Med. 2014 Sep;76(7):529-37. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000094.

Music and psychophysiological recovery from stress.

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From the Behavioural Science Institute (M.R., S.A.E.G., M.A.J.K.), Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; and Institute of Psychology (J.F.B.), Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands.



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


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.


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.


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

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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