The Relationship Between Music-Related Emotional Regulation Strategies and Wellbeing
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The relationship between music-related emotional regulation strategies and wellbeing
Monash University
PSY4062 – Research Methods and Theory
Assessment Project Milestone I: Literature Review
Word Count: 795
Dysfunctional emotion regulation (ER) processes have been noted to play an important role in the development and maintenance of many forms of psychopathology (Carlson et al., 2015). ER is defined as a set of strategies that are used to monitor, evaluate or modify an individual’s emotional experience and expression (Randall & Rickard, 2014). Adaptive ER processes are essential in maintaining an individual’s overall mental health and well-being. Empirical research has identified the use of music as an effective method of ER (Thayer, 1994). A number of studies have found that music can assist in the reduction of stress, improvement of negative moods (Carlson, 2015; Laukka, 2007; North & Hargreaves, 2006), and is associated with higher levels of well-being (Chin & Rickard, 2014; Thoma, Scholz, Ehlert & Nater, 2012). Current research suggests that the selection of a particular ER strategy now plays a crucial role in determining the mental health-related outcomes associated with music use (Lonsdale & North, 2011; Saarikallio, Gold & McFerran, 2015, 2011; Schafer, Sedlmeier, Stadtler & Huron, 2013).

The process model of ER is perhaps the most prominent theoretical perspective in the ER literature. It posits that the generation of emotion occurs along a time-line continuum and various ER strategies are most effective at modulating the experience and expression of emotion, at particular points along the time line (Gross & John, 2003). In relation to music use, cognitive reappraisal (CR; restructuring cognitions to modulate the way one thinks about potentially emotional events) and expressive suppression (ES; attempting to hide, inhibit or reduce ongoing emotion expressive behavior (John and Gross, 2003), are the most relevant strategies.

CR is noted to be an adaptive ER strategy and is linked with greater health and well-being outcomes (social, psychological and physical) and is associated with a positive impact on mental illness and its correlate symptoms, such as depression; (Siedliecki & Good, 2006)). John & Gross (2003) found that individuals, who habitually used CR showed fewer symptoms of depression, were more satisfied with their lives, more optimistic and had better self-esteem. In contrast, the habitual use of ES has been linked with lower levels of positive affect, increases in negative affect and greater psychopathological symptoms (John & Gross, 2003; Chin & Rickard, 2014).

The literature regarding CR and ES in a non-music related framework is well established; however whether music is used to regulate emotions in the same way as non-music ER strategies has not been sufficiently demonstrated. There is a paucity of studies directly assessing the link between music-related ER strategies and well-being. Of the studies that have been conducted, CR music-related strategies seemed to fit in with the non-music related ER literature. For example, Chin and Rickard examined the potential well-being benefits of music listening and various ER strategies in a community sample of 637 adolescents, found that those individuals who used CR strategies, reported higher levels of emotional, psychological and subjective wellbeing than those who used ES (Papinczaka, et al. 2015). Chamorro-Premuzic (2007), found that individuals who used CR to regulate emotions, whilst listening to music, typically had lower levels of neuroticism and depression than those utilising ES strategies. However the research regarding ES is not so clearly defined.

Contrary to the non-music ER literature, a number of studies have found music-related ES strategies to beneficially promote health and well-being, in particular, diversion (an ES strategy that uses music as a positive distraction to suppress or distract from worries) was an efficient ER strategy that was shown to improve mood and protect against depression (Carlson, 2015; Saarikallio et al., 2015).

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Use Of Music And Emotional Regulation Strategies. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from