New study: Music elicits surprising emotional responses

Posted on: August 6, 2010

On the heels of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s recent denouncement of music, Eric Felten writes in Friday’s (8/6) Wall Street Journal, “I suspect Mr. Khamenei’s real complaint is rooted in the same disquiet authoritarians have long felt about music—that it affects people profoundly and can’t be controlled. There’s no doubt that music affects us—perhaps in surprising ways. … There is a French study just out from the journal Psychology of Music showing that jeunes femmes are more willing to give out their phone numbers after listening to romantic tunes. The young ladies exposed to ‘neutral’ compositions were less open to propositions. This follows on a study done last year showing that men buy more roses when a florist pipes in love songs. … But if music is such an effective tool for manipulating people, why isn’t it wholeheartedly embraced by the tyrants in Tehran? … The rub is that, though music may be controlling, it isn’t controllable. Even the honest artist looking only to achieve an immediate effect in his audience can’t know just what it is that any one person is feeling.”

Posted August 6, 2010