How Music Influences Us, Psychologically

music influences us

Music is all around us, all the time. Because our world is so inundated with different types of music, it can actually change our perception about things without us even realizing. Of course, there are many different benefits to that. Music can change your mood, your motivation, and can help you to get through some tough times (we’ve all played a break-up song on repeat while eating a pint of ice cream, it’s okay to admit it!).

Because of the ways that music can affect us on a psychological level, businesses have taken to using music in their marketing strategies for decades. Music can be used to influence the things we buy or what we’re attracted to. Even in television and movies, different music is played to give us “cues” as to how we’re supposed to feel and react.

Music can also change your opinion about things, and help you to develop very specific and passionate feelings toward something. Prefer McDonalds over Burger King? It could be something as simple as the jingle they use and how it gets stuck in your head … for hours, or even days. Are you “lovin’ it” yet? With so much power, it’s interesting to dive deeper when it comes to learning why music has such an effect on us. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few different ways music influences us each day.

Music and Your Mood

Do you have a specific song you like to listen to when you’re doing certain things? Maybe it’s a hype song you listen to when you’re getting ready to give a presentation at work. Maybe you have your own personal jam that gets you motivated to practice, work out, or even stay focused on what you need to do. Or, maybe you have a specific song you listen to when you’re sad. Many people create specific playlists for different situations in life such as moving, long-distance traveling, or finals prep in college, because they know exactly which songs they need to get through those activities.

It’s not just coincidence that we listen to certain types of music and even specific songs when we’re feeling a specific way. Music has a huge impact on how we feel and our behaviors. When you listen to happier, more upbeat music, you’re more likely to participate in positive behaviors. Upbeat music can make just about anything seem better. Music can also improve the behavior of children, helping them to become more social, empathetic, and sympathetic.

What more, while just listening to music can have all these wonderful impacts, actually playing instruments can have a host of health and mood benefits as well. The act of playing an instrument can help a person reduce stress, manage anxiety levels, and boost creativity.

So, why does music have such a big impact on the way you feel? Research has suggested that it’s all about dopamine. Certain types of music activate dopamine receptors in your brain, allowing the hormone to give you feelings of happiness and comfort. That’s why you feel good when you’re listening to your favorite dance track, and you feel better when you’re listening to a break-up song. It’s more than just an interesting finding, though. Because music has such a powerful impact on how we feel and mood regulation, it can be used for things like mental health treatments and therapies for some neurological disorders.

Music and Marketing

Major companies and marketing agencies know just how influential music can be. That’s why jingles are so effective. It’s becoming harder and harder to advertise certain products, businesses, etc. because people are getting better at tuning things out. Things like billboards, television commercials, and magazine ads just don’t cut it anymore. So, companies need to find creative ways to connect with their audiences and influence people to buy what they’re selling.

But, companies don’t necessarily need a catchy musical tagline in order to change your thought process when it comes to what you want to buy. Advertising content performs better when it’s able to evoke an emotional reaction.

Think about some of the most memorable commercials you’ve seen – the ones that stirred up your emotions. Now, try to think about those commercials without the music. Even as you imagine them, they probably don’t seem as emotionally-touching, right? The right song in a commercial or advertisement can make a huge difference in creating an emotional response. The bigger that emotional response is, the more likely it will be for consumers to choose that product, brand, business, etc. Pay attention to the music being used during the next ad you see that brings a tear to your eye, and think about how much that song plays a factor in how you’re feeling.

Music is a big reason why video marketing has become so popular in recent years. You’re more likely to feel something from an advertisement if you can watch and listen to it, rather than just see it on a piece of paper. That’s why videos are 10 times more effective than print content. It goes far beyond what you purchase, too — politicians use music in their campaign ads to try to grab your interest, it’s used in a variety of different sports to keep you energized, and it’s a great generational marker.

Music can take you back to a certain period of time, whether that’s a specific decade or a significant time in your own life. Because music has such a deeply-rooted connection to different aspects of our lives, it’s no wonder we’re so emotionally attached to it. Try paying more attention to the music that surrounds you on a daily basis and how it makes you feel. When you’re more aware of it, you can start to easily see how different types of music stir up emotions that you may not have realized before.

Indiana Lee is a writer and musician from the pacific northwest who has a particular interest in covering the arts, social justice, and health. You can follow her work on Contently, or email her at

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