Self-regulation of mood states through music listening

William Derry Heasley (1995)

This study explored whether people regulate their own moods through listening to music and it examined the strategies used to do so. It took as its point of departure core principles of most psychological theories focusing on the organism's behavior to regulate its own states, including hedonic self-regulation and cognitive self-regulation. It hinged on research demonstrating that physiological and reported mood changes accompany music listening. This study proposed that music users maintain an internalized menu of music selections, characteristics, and genres arrayed along a continuum analogous to their own known mood states. It was hypothesized that music users employ music to self-regulate their moods. Further, it was hypothesized that music users select music via divergent metastrategies including enhancing and changing the prelistening state. Data were taken from self-reported listening experiences gathered during interviews. The study supports the hypotheses and finds evidence that music listeners use music to regulate cognitions and arousal levels as well as mood states. Implications of music listening as a coping behavior are discussed.