Many of us have experienced firsthand that accompanying exercise with music can be incredibly motivational. A study announced this summer demonstrates why: music makes us feel powerful, especially when there is heavy bass.
The study was developed at Northwestern University and published in Social Psychological & Personality Science.
Lead author Dennis Hsu said the hypothesis for the study arose when he and other researchers were watching televised sports. The scientists noticed that competitors were frequently wearing earphones as they entered the arena. Observing that the music seemed to be used to increase confidence, Hsu and his cohorts wondered if there might be a verifiable psychological basis for the use of music.
Previous studies have shown that music is positive for the alleviation of pain, ability to grasp new concepts, and enhancement of motivation. This study is the first to assess the idea that music might make a person feel powerful.
Evaluating the power of music for health & fitness
Initially, the researchers played short segments from over 30 songs to the study subjects. The musical selections were of three types: reggae, hip-hop, and songs played for motivation through sports stadium PA’s. Subjects were to score each song based on the power felt when hearing it (a basis for the subconsciousness analysis described below). The two songs that performed the strongest were 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
Once the initial evaluation was complete, the team began its more in-depth examination: determining how each track integrated with a trio of physical and mental activities that often results from power. The consequences of power, as established by a previous study, include mental abstraction (the ability to see generalities rather than specifics), perception of control (belief in one’s ability to manipulate social outcomes), and the impetus to attempt domination of one’s opponent during competitive exercise.
The researchers had participants perform a number of activities, such as rolling dice, to determine the subconscious appearance of the power trio listed above. The findings demonstrated that the highest-scoring songs yielded all three results, suggesting that power is generated subconsciously by certain types of music.
High bass levels to optimize health & fitness
As with the power consequences, the study authors were inspired by prior studies to specifically analyze the levels of bass. Music with stronger bass correlated with an elevated sense of power among the subjects, as verified by the outcomes of a word-choice exercise.
This study demonstrates that the use of a simple tool such as music can make a major impact on one’s mindset during physical activity. As noted above, music also assists in the management of pain. At the Atlanta Medical Clinic, we understand that the complex nature of pain requires highly refined, multimodal solutions. Get a free consultation today.