Not Just for Your Ears

Have you ever asked why people listen to music? Well, we might automatically think that we do it to entertain ourselves. We enjoy hearing good tunes and perfect lyrics to sing along with. On the other hand, some people might be doing so for their passion and sometimes as a form self-expression.

In an experiment, Mitchell, MacDonald & Knussen (2008) found that music can also help increase our tolerance for pain. Their study had a total of 80 participants who underwent three treatment conditions—preferred music, visual distraction and silence. Each participant was instructed to dip their hands into a cold pressor and was given the freedom to withdraw their hand whenever they can no longer tolerate the pain. After which, they were asked to rate the intensity of pain and their level of anxiety.

The study found that among the three variables, preferred music had the most significant impact on one’s perception of pain. In particular, listening to it increased their tolerance for pain, especially when they know the lyrics very well, and their perception of control over the painful stimulus. In addition to that, it has also decreased their anxiety and pain intensity rating.


So, this explains why there are a lot of movie scenes that show broken hearted people spend time in their room just listening to their music instead of talking their heart out. Interesting! 🙂 Now, it even makes more sense why other people love listening to music the way they do.


Mitchell, L. A., MacDonald, R. R., & Knussen, C. (2008). An investigation of the effects of music and art on pain perception. Psychology Of Aesthetics, Creativity, And The Arts, 2(3), 162-170. doi:10.1037/1931-3896.2.3.162

Image Source:,r:5,s:0,i:82


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