People often listen to music to relieve stress. Hanging out with friends is known to relieve stress. So, does hanging out with friends while listening to music double this effect? This was the question of researchers from the University of Marburg, Germany.
However, determining the answer to this question via survey or in the laboratory would be less than, so experience sampling was used.
The participants were given iPod touches, and asked questions about their social context, stress, whether they were listening to music, and why if so. They were asked these questions five times per day for one week. In addition to answering the questions, participants also gave saliva samples in order to test for cortisol (a hormone indicating stress) and salivary alpha-amylase (indicating relaxation).
After the week was finished, the study found that:
- Listening to music while alone reduced stress- but only when the person indicated they were listening to the music in order to reduce stress.
- Listening to music while around other people helped improve the stress-relieving effect of spending time with those other people.
In conclusion, researchers were able to use experience sampling to find out whether listening to music with or without friends reduced stress in daily life. And, listening to music can help reduce stress. But, like most things, it’s better with friends.
Linnemann, A., Strahler, J., & Nater, U. M. (2016). The stress-reducing effect of music listening varies depending on the social context. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 72, 97-105.