Does music become more emotional as you get older?

music and emotions
Initial results from an ongoing study in Ireland suggest that music may have a greater emotional impact on older people than their younger counterparts.

The study, undertaken by musician and PHD candidate Jenny Groarke, aims to explore how people of different ages engage with music. It has involved a group of people aged 60-85 and participants aged 18-35 at NUI Galway.

Groarke explained that there was a much stronger tendency among older people to use music to regulate their emotions. Two thirds of those aged between 60 and 85 said they used classical music when dealing with stress.

Groarke explained that older participants proved to be more effective at regulating their emotions than younger people. “We are beginning to understand that wellbeing is a skill, a key component being our ability to regulate our emotional experiences, to minimise negative feelings and maximise positive ones,” she said.

The study is one of the first of its kind to look at the different ways in which music is used at various points in our lives. Other research has focused specifically on the impact music can have on elderly people’s emotional and psychological well-being, but without comparing this alongside younger participants.

Groarke explained that she became interested in the topic when she noticed the contrasting ways in which she and her grandfather used music in their daily lives.