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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Oct;72:97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.06.003. Epub 2016 Jun 23.

The stress-reducing effect of music listening varies depending on the social context.

Author information

1
University of Marburg, Dept. of Psychology, Marburg, Germany.
2
University of Marburg, Dept. of Psychology, Marburg, Germany. Electronic address: nater@uni-marburg.de.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Given that music listening often occurs in a social context, and given that social support can be associated with a stress-reducing effect, it was tested whether the mere presence of others while listening to music enhances the stress-reducing effect of listening to music.

METHODS:

A total of 53 participants responded to questions on stress, presence of others, and music listening five times per day (30min after awakening, 1100h, 1400h, 1800h, 2100h) for seven consecutive days. After each assessment, participants were asked to collect a saliva sample for the later analysis of salivary cortisol (as a marker for the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and salivary alpha-amylase (as a marker for the autonomic nervous system).

RESULTS:

Hierarchical linear modeling revealed that music listening per se was not associated with a stress-reducing effect. However, listening to music in the presence of others led to decreased subjective stress levels, attenuated secretion of salivary cortisol, and higher activity of salivary alpha-amylase. When listening to music alone, music that was listened to for the reason of relaxation predicted lower subjective stress.

CONCLUSION:

The stress-reducing effect of music listening in daily life varies depending on the presence of others. Music listening in the presence of others enhanced the stress-reducing effect of music listening independently of reasons for music listening. Solitary music listening was stress-reducing when relaxation was stated as the reason for music listening. Thus, in daily life, music listening can be used for stress reduction purposes, with the greatest success when it occurs in the presence of others or when it is deliberately listened to for the reason of relaxation.

KEYWORDS:

Ambulatory assessment; Daily life; Music listening; Presence of others; Stress

PMID:
27393906
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.06.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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