How Music Can Make You Feel More Powerful

We knew it! A new scientific study concluded that some songs make people feel stronger.

“My coauthors and I noticed that at major sporting events athletes often use headphones in their dressing rooms and as they enter the stadium. The way these athletes are immersed in the music, some with their eyes closed and some nodding gently, seems as if the melody prepares them mentally and makes them stronger for the competition that is about to happen,” says Dennis Hsu from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (USA).

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That was the starting point that deepen Hsu and his team’s investigation on how music can transform the psychological state of the listener. Until now, several studies have shown positive effects that different tunes have on people, ranging from improved learning and motivation to reduced physical pain. However, scientists argue, there was no research that linked music with a sense of power and its effects and also identified possible causes.

What they found was that music makes people feel more powerful, but that does not apply to all the melodies and bass levels-the more the better-are a key issue for its effectiveness. According to scientists, this topic plays around “constraint hypothesis.” This theory suggests that certain pieces of music can trigger powerful experiences that are often associated with that particular music. A song that usually gets used in sporting events to inspire powerful feelings and that is associated with power, reward and success is “We Are The Champions.”

The Proof

Hsu and his team chose 31 pieces of various genres such as hip-hop, rock, and reggae. Then they told 148 teenagers to listen each song for 30 seconds. They then came up with a list of songs that caused more or less sense of power. Among the first were Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready For This” and among other songs were Fatboy Slim’s “Because We Can” and Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

After listening to each song, they made six experiments to see how the best and worst songs rated and how they affected the subjects. Specifically, they studied three aspects: the tendency to become isolated, perceived control over social events, and the desire to be first in sports competitions. “Part of our goal was to test whether music produces the same effects of energy that exist in other sources,” says Hsu. They also asked participants about their feelings in regards to what they heard.

What they found and published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, was that certain songs not only provide an unconscious sense of power but also generate the above consequences (abstraction, greater control and desire to be first in competitions). In turn, they also had participants take into consideration the lyrics, but found no significant changes in their feelings.

So, it’s time to turn up some Beyonce and feel like you run the world! What song makes you feel invincible?

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