Sad songs was the perfect way to recover from a relationship breakdown
Sir Elton John once sang that listening to Sad Songs was the perfect way to recover from a relationship breakdown.
But now psychologists appear to have uncovered evidence to support the pop star’s conclusions that they really do “say so much”.
A new international study has found listening to sad music was the best way to recover from a relationship break-up as it had the same soothing effect as a sympathetic friend.
Researchers concluded that when consumers experienced serious emotional distress they turned to a surrogate to replace a lost personal bond and lift their mood.
Their findings appear to contradict popular opinion that upbeat music or humorous movies were a better way to beat distress.
"Emotional experiences of aesthetic products are important to our happiness and well-being, ” said co-author Dr Stephen Palmer, from the University of California at Berkeley.
"Like a sympathetic friend, music, movies, paintings, or novels that are compatible with our current mood and feelings are more appreciated when we experience broken or failing relationships."
In the study, consumers were presented with various frustrating situations and asked to rate angry music, compared to joyful or relaxing music. Other volunteers were separately asked to recall experiences involving loss.
The authors found people experiencing relationship problems were more likely to prefer “sad music” or “tear-jerking dramas” that reflected their negative mood.
Participants said they liked angry music more when they were frustrated by interpersonal violations such as being interrupted or when someone was late than by “impersonal” problems such as lack of internet connection or a natural disaster.
Preference for sad music was significantly higher when they had experienced the break-up of a personal relationship, compared to an impersonal loss such as losing a competition.