Ever wonder why metalheads can often be the nicest people? Apparently, those who more intensely understand the pain or pleasure of others find more happiness in listening to music, a new study from Southern Methodist University finds.
While the more empathy you have also heightens the impact of sad news on your psyche, the study shows that listening to familiar music gives greater joy in highly compassionate people. Lead author Zachary Wallmark explains the basics:
“High-empathy and low-empathy people share a lot in common when listening to music,” he says. That includes “roughly equivalent involvement in the regions of the brain related to auditory, emotion, and sensory-motor processing.”
But there’s one major difference when it comes to listening to music. An empathetic person’s brains shows more involvement of social circuitry when listening to tunes, such as the areas that light up when feeling compassion for others.
“This may indicate that music is being perceived weakly as a kind of social entity. As an imagined or virtual human presence,” offers Wallmark. This enhancement gives empathetic folks a more pleasure when listening to music.
This all points to much deeper connections between our listening habits and our perception of the world, of course. And the SMU-UCLA study is the” first to find evidence supporting a neural account of the music-empathy connection.”
“If music was not related to how we process the social world,” Wallmark concludes of the study, “then we likely would have seen no significant difference in the brain activation between high-empathy and low-empathy people.”
fMRI imaging was used by the researchers in the study, as pointed out by Loudwire. This helped them explore how empathy interacts with the way we listen to music. Below, see more about the study and watch some of the imaging footage:
Do you think that having a deep empathy actually affords a better appreciation of familiar music? Do you feel like you’re an empathetic person? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think about this latest music study.