Study: Why You Should Listen to Sad Music When You’re Sad



If you scroll through the music on my iPod, you will find a series of playlists titled Whatever, Who Cares?, Ughhhh, and so on, each one filled with enough sad John Mayer songs to make even the most emotionally stable human being shed a tear. The only reason I’m not horribly embarrassed to divulge this information to you is because these playlists were created over five years ago, after my first-ever breakup and, apparently, there’s a scientific excuse for their existence. A new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that when you’re down, listening to sad songs truly does make you feel better, the Today Show reports.

The study, based on a survey of over 770 people and performed by researchers in Germany, found that the most popular time for folks to listen to sad music is when they are going through emotional distress themselves, most commonly after breakup, and doing so offers four distinct rewards: sad music allows us to explore deep sadness without having to go through something deeply saddening ourselves; it serves as an outlet for reflection, helping to regulate our emotions; it tricks us into thinking that we can express our sadness as “richly” as, say, John Mayer; it allows us to share our sadness with someone else (the singer).

After listening to sad music, folks reported feeling emotions like nostalgia, peacefulness and tenderness, all before feeling sadness. So turns out, the next time you’re feeling a bit heartsick, a therapy session with John Mayer could be just the cure.

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