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How Music Affects Relationships

Updated on June 30, 2015

Our Song: Helps Build Community

It is said that it is a song writer's job is to help us cope with life by expressing exactly what we feel about an idea or a situation. In a sense, we could think of a composer as the Robin Hood of emotions, who takes expression from the rich of words and gives it to the poorer. However, while the relationship between the song-writer and the listener may be a distant and unequal one, the songs themselves can be a cementing factor in relationship between listeners.

An article in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin states that the value system that our musical tastes belie, is a central motivator of social bonds. We share an affinity with people who like the same music because we perceive them as sharing our value system, which is one of the more concrete ways of forming a bond.

'Coz I am Happy: Songs Evoke Emotions

According to a paper by Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya from the University of London, music affects the way we see visual images. A certain image, when viewed in tandem with a happy song could appear happy, while the same image could take on another meaning under the influence of another song.

What this indicated then, is that emotions created by music are cross-modal and can influence more than one sensory system simultaneously. This is how ambient music influences our experience at a restaurant or why in our heads, a song becomes synonymous with a person and the feelings he or she elicits. This is how lyrics of a shared song can come to represent the bond that is shared and can be a meaningful symbol of the relationship.

Somebody to Love: The Guéguen, Jacob and Lamy (2010) Study

This was an experiment conducted in France to determine the effects of romantic music on dating behaviour. A group of women were exposed to romantic music while they waited for the experiment to begin, while another group had a neutral piece of ambient music. Five minutes later, the participants individually interacted with a man conducting a marketing survey. The man then went on to ask the subject for her phone number in order to ask her out on a date. It was seen that the number of women who gave out their number were largely from the group that had been exposed to romantic songs; thereby verifying that music can influence one to be 'in the mood for love'.


I'll Love You Forever: Evokes Personal Memories

This commonly observed phenomenon has been ratified by research in a one of a kind study published in December 2013. This study conducted by Amee Baird and Séverine Samson examined MEAMS: Music-evoked Autobiographical Memories in people with Acquired Brain Injuries. It was seen that people could recall positive memories by stimulating the associations with the songs that the researchers exposed them to. Moreover, it was also proven that the longer it has been since the song was last heard, the better preserved the associations with it are. Therefore songs are like the pensieve in Harry Potter books; they magically preserve your memories and can transport you to them.


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