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Music Psychology: How Music Brings Us Together


Music has long been an integral aspect of the human experience. In 2009, archeologists unearthed the oldest known musical instrument, a vulture-bone flute, in a European cave from 40,000 years ago (National Geographic). So, why did humans evolve to partake in creating and enjoying music? New research points to our innate desire to connect. Music can convey emotion, lead to the formation of vivid memories, and, most importantly, strengthen connections. As a university student working towards my bachelor of science in psychology, I'd like to take a look behind the scenes at the science behind how music plays an integral role in how we connect and relate to one another. 

Before the advent of music streaming and recording, the only way to experience it was live. Our ancestors would have to come together and put on concerts, rather than just opening Spotify and clicking play. This type of social contact may have provided a physical and psychological safety net which aided our ancestors' survival and may even help us in the modern day. Further, studies show that musically synchronizing with others results in the release of pleasure chemicals (endorphins) in our brains, creating positive feelings associated with those with whom you're synchronizing. Interestingly, research has shown that we can reap these benefits even if the person we synchronize with is not visible to us! You can even try this for yourself — visit (or call) a friend or family member and try singing a song together! May I suggest… 


Humans have an inherent desire to consistently seek inclusion over exclusion to fulfill our fundamental need to belong. Music is one way to fulfill this desire to belong, leading to an increased sense of safety and obligation towards your group. Studies have found increased social cohesion and emotional well-being among families and peer groups when they engage in ritualized musical activities, such as listening to music and even talking about one's favourite songs. Music can play a significant role in strengthening peer and family relations and improving social and emotional well-being. Shared musical preferences have also been shown to create bonds between people, as we have an inclination to affiliate musical taste with our values. This tendency to relate musical taste and values can influence how much we like someone based on their taste in music.


Since music taste can vary from person to person, finding the perfect mix of tunes for you and your friends and family can be challenging. However, thanks to Spotify's new Blend playlists, you can generate a continually updating playlist for you and up to 10 friends to find the perfect music to jam out and bond over.