How Does Exposure to Different Music Genres Affect Stress Reduction in Adults?

June 13, 2024

In an increasingly busy world, stress has become a common issue for a majority of adults. Various strategies have been proposed to curb stress, from cognitive behavioral therapy to lifestyle changes. However, the world of music stands out as a unique and accessible approach for stress reduction. Numerous studies have investigated the effects of different music genres on stress reduction, with fascinating conclusions.

Google Scholar and PubMed as Sources of Scholarly Information

When looking for scientific evidence to substantiate the claim that music reduces stress, two platforms stand out - Google Scholar and PubMed. Both are repositories of scholarly articles, research papers, and doctoral theses that provide well-researched and scientifically-backed information on various topics.

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Google Scholar acts as a broad search engine that indexes research articles from various disciplines. It covers a wider range of sources, including books, conference papers, theses, and dissertations. On the other hand, PubMed is a free resource supporting the search and retrieval of peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences literature with the aim of improving health–both globally and personally.

Both of these platforms have been instrumental in providing research data on the effects of music on stress reduction. Numerous studies found on these platforms have indicated that different genres of music have varying effects on stress levels.

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The Effect of Acoustic Music on Stress Levels

Acoustic music is an umbrella term for all music that solely or primarily uses instruments that produce sound through acoustic means, as opposed to electric or electronic means. The soothing tones of acoustic music, full of rippling melodies and harmonies, have been associated with relaxation and stress reduction.

A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (doi:10.1007/s10865-018-9973-4) explored the impact of instrumental acoustic music on the stress response. The participants were exposed to a stressful condition known as the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), which is a well-validated protocol that induces moderate psychosocial stress. Salivary cortisol, a hormone that increases with stress, was measured before and after the music listening period.

The study found that those who listened to acoustic music for 20 min prior to the TSST had significantly lower cortisol levels, indicating a lessened stress response. This suggests that acoustic music may have a positive impact on emotional health by reducing stress.

How Water and Rippling Sounds Affect the Stress Axis

Water and rippling sounds have long been associated with tranquility and peace. They are often used in meditation and mindfulness practices to promote relaxation. But how do they scientifically interact with our stress axis?

In a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (doi:10.3390/ijerph15051040), participants were exposed to environmental sounds, including water and rippling sounds, while undergoing the TSST. Salivary cortisol responses were measured before and after the exposure to the sounds.

The study found that those who listened to water and rippling sounds had a blunted salivary cortisol response, suggesting a reduction in stress levels. Similar to acoustic music, environmental sounds might play a role in stress reduction by calming our emotional response to stressors.

Exploring the Role of Emotional Response in Music Listening

The emotional response to music is a complex interplay of physiological, cognitive, and emotional factors. Music can evoke a wide range of emotions, from joy to sadness, excitement to tranquility. How does this emotional response to music affect stress relief?

A study published in PLoS ONE (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070144) investigated the relationship between music, emotional response, and stress reduction. Participants were exposed to different types of music and their emotional responses were assessed using self-report measures.

The results showed that music evoking positive emotions led to a significant reduction in stress levels. This suggests that the emotional response to music plays a crucial role in its stress-reducing effects.

The Effects of Music Genres on Stress Reduction

Different music genres can evoke different emotions and therefore, can have varied effects on stress levels. From the vibrant beats of pop music to the soulful tunes of blues, the type of music one listens to can influence their stress levels in different ways.

In a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy (doi:10.1093/jmt/37.4.295), participants were exposed to different music genres including classical, jazz, and heavy metal music. Their stress levels were measured using salivary cortisol tests.

Interestingly, the study found that classical and jazz music significantly reduced cortisol levels, indicating a reduction in stress. However, heavy metal music didn't have the same effect, suggesting that not all music genres have stress-reducing effects.

In conclusion, the kind of music you listen to can influence your stress levels. Whether it's the calming tones of acoustic music or the soothing sounds of water, music can be a powerful tool for stress reduction. So the next time you feel stressed, consider turning on some music and let the melodies wash over you.

The Intricate Link Between Music Therapy and HPA Axis Regulation

The connection between music therapy and the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is our central stress response system, is a growing field of interest in the world of psychoneuroendocrinology. Music, as a form of acoustic stimulation, has the ability to influence this complex system, thereby affecting our stress levels.

A study available on both Google Scholar and PubMed (doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.11.010) examined the effects of music therapy on the HPA axis by measuring salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels in the participants' saliva - both of which are reliable indicators of stress response.

Participants were divided into a music therapy group and a control group. The music therapy group was subjected to acoustic stimulation in the form of soothing music, while the control group was subjected to a control condition with no music. Salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol were measured before and after the session to determine the effect of music on the HPA axis.

The results revealed that the group exposed to music therapy showed a significant reduction in both salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels. Furthermore, the interaction between group and time (group-time interaction) was also significant, indicating that the effect of music therapy on stress is dependent on the duration of exposure.

These results provide robust evidence for the role of music as a therapeutic intervention in controlling stress, by exerting a regulating effect on the HPA axis.

The Benefits and Implications of Music Listening for Stress Reduction

With a multitude of empirical studies supporting the stress-relieving effects of music, the implications for everyday life are significant. The role of music listening in the regulation of our emotional responses and stress levels can provide a valuable tool in the quest for mental well-being.

Various genres, particularly those of acoustic nature, appear to have the most potent effect. It is essential to note that the emotional response induced by the music - rather than the genre itself - seems to be the driving force behind its stress-reducing properties. Music that invokes positive emotions may therefore be particularly beneficial.

Water and sound rippling, used widely in mindfulness practices, have been scientifically shown to interact with our stress axis and reduce stress levels. This acoustic control may offer a unique avenue for stress reduction strategies.

Overall, the wealth of available research data from platforms like Google Scholar and PubMed suggests that music - in its various forms - is a powerful tool for managing stress. It offers a non-invasive, enjoyable, and easily accessible method for reducing stress and enhancing emotional well-being.


In conclusion, the exposure to different music genres and sounds plays a significant role in stress reduction among adults. Acoustic music, in particular, has shown substantial benefits, with ripple water sounds also demonstrating a tranquil effect on the listener’s stress axis. The interaction of music listening with our emotional response and HPA axis is a key point in understanding its therapeutic potential.

These findings, backed by numerous studies available on platforms such as Google Scholar and PubMed, highlight the importance of music as an accessible and effective tool in our stress management toolkit. However, the choice of music is subjective and personalized - what works for one individual may not have the same effect on another. Hence, it is recommended for individuals to explore different genres and types of music to discover what works best for their own stress reduction.

Remember, it's not just about the genre; it's about how the music makes you feel. So, the next time you're feeling stressed, take a moment to listen to your favorite melodies and allow the music to soothe your mind.