Social and Emotional Function of Music Listening: Reasons for Listening to Music

Assist Prof. Dr., Faculty of Fine Arts, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey

Problem Statement: The reasons that people listen to music have been investigated for many years. Research results over the past 50 years have showed that individual musical preference is influenced by multiple factors. Many studies have shown throughout that music has been used to induce emotional states, express, activate, control emotions, relax, and communicate. It can be suggested that asking “how students shape music in their mind, the importance of music, and which genres they listen to and why” can help educators achieve their goals more easily.
Purpose of Study: This study investigated the involvement of music in the lives of university students; the type of music they listen to in the university and during childhood; why they listen to music; and the emotional and social function of music. Of the students attending different departments of Dokuz Eylul University Faculty of Fine Arts, 322 were randomly selected to participate in this study. Open-ended questions were used to reveal their reasons for listening to music and the musical genres they prefer.
Method: To reveal how often students listen to music, why they listen to music, and what type of music they listen to during university and childhood, a questionnaire with open-ended questions was used. A content analysis methodology was used to analyze the data.
Findings and Results: Findings revealed that the main reasons for listening to music were enjoyment, emotional mood, peer group, and family. In addition, the majority of students reported that they listen to music between two and nine hours per day. The most preferred genres were rock, jazz, western art, and pop. The least preferred genres were Turkish musics. The preferred genres and listening frequencies were found to be different in childhood and in university. In addition, the preferred musical types of the participants were different from those their families preferred.
Conclusions and Recommendations: The fact that the participants’ preferred genres of music differed during adulthood and childhood and also differed from their families’ preferences indicates that the family’s role in the development of musical tastes is not significant. Another striking finding is that Turkish music genres are not more popular. This finding can be associated with the fact that music represents social identity. It is seen that Enjoyment and emotional mood were among the main reasons for listening to music. 

Keywords: Reasons for Listening to Music; Musical preference; Emotional function of music; Social function of music.