The Link Between Music and Self-esteem


Is there a link between music and self-esteem? Music has always played an important role in society.  It has accompanied movements such as the struggles against discrimination,, and it gave life to fashions and new lifestyles.

In addition to creating social cohesion and shared messages, music can influence our relationship with ourselves. Listening to music that conveys positive messages can positively affect the mood, help to give birth to a more optimistic view of reality, lowering the level of stress, and improving self-confidence.

Music and self-esteem in research

Some research has shown that the mood changes caused by music, although temporary, help to improve our self-assessment. An experiment revealed how the participants involved showed an increase in self-esteem when subjected to listening to music that conveyed positive thoughts, compared to those who were subjected to listening to music that on the contrary relied on feelings associated with sadness.  There are even more evident result in those who had previously declared themselves to have low self-esteem.  In this case listening to sad music had the effect of further significantly lowering the opinion of themselves.

Empathy comes into play

How does this mechanism that allows music to influence our self-esteem work? First of all, we say that there is no music that can be defined as useful for this purpose a priori. Everything depends on our perception, our taste, how we get a song, and the relationship we establish with it.

Empathy plays a decisive role. When we listen to a song that manages to raise an empathic feeling between us and those who sing it, we spontaneously think that we can make our own his life experience until we share it and we tend to identify with him by making our own the concepts he expresses. If the song expresses a positive self-evaluation, we too will be encouraged to evaluate ourselves more leniently.

We see many international music stars presenting themselves with a “winning” image. Strong, confident, determined to pursue their dreams and determined to pursue success in what they have set out to achieve. The message that they want to get to their audience is also based on an idea of sharing through which the listener feels he can do just that way of thinking and use it to also face his daily challenges and difficulties with more determination.

It follows that the messages that come to us through music can also have a weight in orienting our way of thinking and behaving. Idealizing an artist can lead to sharing, and sometimes even justifying, his ideas by making them our own and influencing our cognitive process accordingly. Having said that, it is easy to understand what power music has if we consider its ability to convey messages reaching a large number of people.

 Musician idols

It is worth dedicating a few lines to a form of relationship that is created between the musician, perhaps better to say the performer of a song or the singer of a song, and that most passionate part of his listeners that is normally defined as fans.

Today the diffusion of the media has increased the interest in the known characters and their lives. It is easy to get the impression of being able to enter the private life of an artist,to share his experiences and thoughts as we have seen happen with the onset of empathic relationships.

What originates, more than a real social relationship, can be defined as a parasocial relationship in which the reciprocity typical of a relationship is not real but is simulated by one of the parties.

As with any kind of relationship, even the one between a fan and his idol meets specific needs.

A classification of needs

American psychologist George Stever classifies the sources of attraction underlying those psychological needs that are satisfied by a parasocial relationship:

attraction to the abilities and performances of the idol: in this case the idol can have the positive effect of encouraging with its example the commitment to reach its own goals;

romantic attraction that gives birth and nourishes fantasies: it allows us to experience emotions in a safe context, without fear of disillusionment from a counterpart that could be indifferent or hostile;

idealization of the hero: the idol impersonates the perfect figure that reality hardly offers us. Its defects are justified or not considered;

identification: all those elements, true or presumed, that bring us closer to our idol to reflect on us the characteristics that make it so unique and increase, as a result, our self-esteem;

parental attachment: a typically feminine aspect that consists in the desire to protect and care for those we love and value.

Admiration and desire to emulate

The desire to have an idol to be inspired is generally associated particularly with people who feel uncomfortable in real situations, many shy and introverted people who find it difficult to interact satisfactorily with other real people. But this is not always the case.

The society in which we live dictates to us requirements and models considered to be successful that are rewarded with social approval. It is easy to feel inadequate, not to live up to the expectations of others but also to our expectations. Those who seem to possess these requirements become models to follow in our eyes, with a mixed feeling of admiration and desire to emulate.

In the end, we must also emphasize how often the idea we make of our idol does not correspond to reality, so much so that he himself would have difficulty recognizing himself in the image we have created of him. But this is of little importance. What matters is that it responds to our needs of the moment, until we stop needing him.


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