Listening to sad music in a group and talking about sad things tend to make people feel more depressed, says a study. This kind of group rumination with music was more common in younger people, and likely reflects relative importance of both music and social relationships to younger people, the study found.
“These results reveal important information about how people with depression use music,” said corresponding author, Sandra Garrido from Western Sydney University, Milperra, Australia. “Susceptible individuals with a predilection for rumination may be most likely to suffer negative outcomes from group rumination, with social feedback deepening and exacerbating negative thoughts and feelings,” Garrido said.
The findings, published in Frontiers in Psychology, also showed that listening to inspiring music in a group and engaging in discussions about music and life is a more positive interaction that makes people feel good. In this study, the researchers wanted to investigate the self-reported effects on mood that comes with listening to sad music in group settings, and how mood is influenced by rumination (a maladaptive focus on negative thoughts), depression, and coping style.
To do so, they recruited 697 participants who completed an online survey about “their ways of using music, types of musical engagement and the effect of music listening”. The participants also completed a number of additional questionnaires, which helped the researchers determine factors such as the presence of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress; general tendencies towards depression; coping styles, i.e. tendencies towards rumination or reflection; musical engagement as a measurement of well being; as well as questionnaires addressing a variety of aspects of music listening, both alone and in a group. The results showed that young people may be especially vulnerable to the impacts of group rumination with music.