The Influence of sad music on nostalgia, happiness, and optimism Levels

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Ellickson, Dominique
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this quantitative, correlational study was to explore the effects of music on nostalgia, and assess whether practicing nostalgia results in a happier and more optimistic person. The purposive sample of 90 participants comprising young Irish adults aged 20-30 (n=45) and older Irish adults aged 65-75 (n=45) partook in a quasi-experimental, cross-sectional study in two experimental groups plus a third control group. Sad and happy nostalgic music triggers were administered to experimental groups and in one setting, empirically measured by a written questionnaire to examine influences on the criterion variables: nostalgia proneness, optimism behaviours and happiness levels. The analysis showed significant effects of sad music on nostalgia. No significant relationships were found between nostalgia behaviour and happiness/optimism. Significantly, this is the first nostalgia study undertaken in an Irish context, and indicates the effectiveness of sad music to trigger nostalgia, which in itself is deemed to be beneficial to psychological functions. Author keywords: nostalgia, music-evoked memories, optimism, happiness, sad music