Reality-based sadness induction fosters affect-congruency in music preference.

In this study, we tested the hypothesis that reality-based, relative to fiction-based, inductions of sadness would lead individuals to exhibit more pronounced affect-congruency in music preference. To test this, we induced participants to experience feelings of sadness by having them view 1 of 2 film clips that vividly portrayed a profound personal loss. The thematic content of the film clips was held constant, and the intensity of the sad feelings that they elicited was equated. In the first group of participants (fiction-based induction condition), the induction was based on a fictional feature film, whereas in the second group (reality-based induction condition), it was based on a real-life documentary. Findings revealed that in contrast to participants in the fiction-based sadness condition, those in the reality-based sadness condition expressed a preference for listening to songs that were expressively sadder than those of participants in a neutral-affect control condition. Likewise, songs chosen by participants in the reality-based induction condition were also rated as expressing less happiness than those of participants in both the fiction-based induction and control conditions. The results help to elucidate the motivational dynamics underlying emotion regulation via selective exposure to music. Moreover, they suggest that the exclusive reliance on fiction-based sadness inductions in several recent lab-based experiments may have threatened their ecological validity, leading them to underestimate the extent to which “misery loves company” in real-world music choice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)