High Energy Music During Driving Elevates Positive Mood for the Day Ahead

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Jasmine Moradi:
Going back to that we first met in NYU in 2017, and you gladly let me try your University’s fMRI scan.  And for your information it was super cool, but super uncomfortable. I don’t know how people do that I could like barely last a minute. I actually found you through reading about your research collaboration with Spotify, where you investigated
“Your what you stream music” and “Driving and music” and “The new golden age of audio”. Tell us about this collaboration and what kind of findings did you see?
Amy Belfi:
So yeah, Spotify, I’m not even sure how exactly I got connected with them, but it was awesome. It’s cool because we’re kind of interested in similar questions, and they’re from the more you know applied, and I’m from the more just basic science curiosity about the mind kind of end. 
But they approached me to work on this project. The big project I did with them was on music and driving, and it was a collaboration with them and with Ford car. Ford had a new car coming out in Europe, and they wanted a piece of research about music and driving, because the car had I think some fancy speakers in it or something, and so we thought well what can we study with music and driving, and I’m interested in emotion.
We designed a study where we wanted to see how does listening to different types of music during your commute. Morning commute influence your mood for the rest of the day.  We developed four different playlists and so Spotify has data on all the music, they have like features that they designate like, I don’t know what the names of the features are but the ones we looked at I would call valence and arousal, which are two like standard emotional terms. So, valence would be how positive or negative emotion. Is the emotion of the song, so a high valence would be like happy or joyful or peaceful like positive emotions. Low valence would be like sad or angry or scared arousal. I think this they call this energy at Spotify, maybe I don’t remember, but high arousal would be like very energizing probably like more fast tempo.
So that would be like happy or angry whereas low arousal would be sad or peaceful so valence arousal are separable dimensions, so we created these playlists. One had high valence high arousal, one had high valence low arousal, one had low valence high arousal, one had low veins lower also. So the music sounded different, so like the high valence high rows would be like upbeat major mode like happy sounding music etc.
We took four groups of people we gave them these playlists, and we said “Okay listen to this during your morning commute”, then before their commute they rated their current emotional state and then right after  their commute they rated it again. Then they rated it for up to two hours after the commute. So what we found which is I think the most interesting part was that the people who had the high valence playlists showed the most changes in their positive mood. Sorry arousal not violence.
It didn’t matter the valence so the positive or negative it just mattered the high energy high arousal music tended to have the strongest impact on their positivity mode. So people who listened to these really energizing playlists felt more positive after their commute and that lasted throughout the day.
Jasmine Moradi:
It really shows the power that music has.