Research

Choose Your Playlist Carefully: Certain Songs Affect Health and Success


Choose Your Playlist Carefully: Certain Songs Affect Health and Success

Courtesy YouTube

The precise effect of 50 Cent’s hit song In Da Club on the human psyche is hard to describe. But that’s what science is for.

Listening to In Da Club makes people feel more powerful and makes them act as if they have more control over random events, according to a paper released this month. Researchers didn’t ask whether people were more likely to sip Bacardi like it was their birthday regardless of the date. The study was led by researchers at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
 

 
To test how 50 Cent can affect a person’s sense of self, researchers offered study participants $5 if they could guess the outcome of rolling a set of dice. People were more likely to take the challenge and assume the odds would be in their favor after listening to hits by 50 Cent and other energetic songs you might hear at SoulCycle, like Queen’s We Will Rock You and 2 Unlimited’s Get Ready for This. Songs that were less likely to make them roll the dice included the Notorious B.I.G’s Big Poppa and Who Let the Dogs Out? by the Baha Men. Participants labeled both songs as “low power,” which could be the first time that the Notorious B.I.G. and the Baha Men have shared a descriptor.

This is only the latest insight researchers have about what music does to your brain. A review of music studies in recent years suggests the key to well being and professional success may all along have lurked somewhere few think to look: their playlists.

1. Music makes you more efficient.
A 2005 study found that software developers produced higher-quality work in a shorter time when listening to music, partly because adding a soundtrack to the workday made them feel a little better about life in general.

2. Jams get your mind high.
Hearing the right kind of music (Beyoncé, Beyoncé remixes, etc.) hits you right in the striatum. That would be the part of the brain that gets the message to start being happy when people do drugs, or just eat a really good burger. Another thing that can activate the striatum? A particularly transcendent piece of music, like Flawless by Beyoncé or Flawless (Remix) featuring Nicki Minaj.

“What may be most interesting here is when this neurotransmitter is released: not only when the music rises to a peak emotional moment, but also several seconds before, during what we might call the anticipation phase,” wrote Robert J. Zatorre and Valorie N. Salimpoor, two neuroscientists, in a New York Times op-ed.

For instance, the moment in Flawless when Beyoncé says “ladies, tell ‘em” like we’re all members of her dance crew.

3. Tunes boost heart health.
Listening to a good song “reduces heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure” for people with heart disease, according to a review of 23 studies on the effects of recorded music on patients, published in 2009. Bumping jams also reduced anxiety. Another study last year found that music can actually make people’s hearts grow stronger, but only if it’s light and enjoyable. Heavy metal might be an iffy bet, one researcher told the Telegraph.

Kitroeff is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York, covering business education.

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