An integrative review of the enjoyment of sadness associated with music
Eerola, T., Vuoskoski, J., Peltola, H.-R., Putkinen, V., & Schäfer, K. (2018). An integrative review of the enjoyment of sadness associated with music. Physics of Life Reviews, 25, 100-121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plrev.2017.11.016
Published inPhysics of Life Reviews
© 2018 Elsevier BV
The recent surge of interest towards the paradoxical pleasure produced by sad music has generated a handful of theories and an array of empirical explorations on the topic. However, none of these have attempted to weigh the existing evidence in a systematic fashion. The present work puts forward an integrative framework laid out over three levels of explanation – biological, psycho-social, and cultural – to compare and integrate the existing findings in a meaningful way. First, we review the evidence pertinent to experiences of pleasure associated with sad music from the fields of neuroscience, psychophysiology, and endocrinology. Then, the psychological and interpersonal mechanisms underlying the recognition and induction of sadness in the context of music are combined with putative explanations ranging from social surrogacy and nostalgia to feelings of being moved. Finally, we address the cultural aspects of the paradox – the extent to which it is embedded in the Western notion of music as an aesthetic, contemplative object – by synthesising findings from history, ethnography, and empirical studies. Furthermore, we complement these explanations by considering the particularly significant meanings that sadness portrayed in art can evoke in some perceivers. Our central claim is that one cannot attribute the enjoyment of sadness fully to any one of these levels, but to a chain of functionalities afforded by each level. Each explanatory level has several putative explanations and its own shift towards positive valence, but none of them deliver the full transformation from a highly negative experience to a fully enjoyable experience alone. The current evidence within this framework ranges from weak to non-existent at the biological level, moderate at the psychological level, and suggestive at the cultural level. We propose a series of focussed topics for future investigation that would allow to deconstruct the drivers and constraints of the processes leading to pleasurable music-related sadness. ...
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Towards a more explicit account of the transformation : Reply to comments on “An integrative review of the enjoyment of sadness associated with music” Eerola, Tuomas; Vuoskoski, Jonna K.; Peltola, Henna-Riikka; Putkinen, Vesa; Schäfer, Katharina (Elsevier BV, 2018)Our integrative framework for explaining the enjoyment of sadness associated with music sparked a delightful number (13) of commentaries which challenge, stimulate, strengthen and shape the ideas we initially put forward. ...
Tiihonen, Titta Marianne; Brattico, Elvira; Maksimainen, Johanna; Wikgren, Jan; Saarikallio, Suvi (Frontiers Research Foundation, 2017)The present literature review investigated how pleasure induced by music and visualart has been conceptually understood in empirical research over the past 20 years. After an initial selection of abstracts from seven ...
Fiveash, Anna (2014)The effects of music on the brain have been extensively researched, and numerous connections have been found between music and language, music and emotion, and music and cognitive processing. Despite this work, these three ...
Maksimainen, Johanna; Wikgren, Jan; Eerola, Tuomas; Saarikallio, Suvi (Nature Publishing Group, 2018)Music is known to evoke emotions through a range of mechanisms, but empirical investigation into the mechanisms underlying different emotions is sparse. This study investigated how affective experiences to music and pictures ...