The Sense of Hearing
According to studies, the type and intensity of emotional reactions are strongly connected with sound and music, which is further amplified by our personal experiences and tendencies.
The sense of hearing
- A study by Lionel Tiger identified that touching, hearing, and smelling are the three physio-pleasures enjoyed by humans.
- A publication from Tufts University highlighted that our sense of hearing is extremely important and when it comes to learning, hearing is one of the first senses humans grasp and it allows us to assimilate information about the world before anything else.
- The same study by Tufts University emphasized that people with hearing impairment severely lack emotional understanding.
Interrelation between sound and positive emotion
- It has been found that the type and intensity of emotional reactions are strongly connected with sound and music, which is further magnified by our personal experiences and tendencies.
- As per the researchers of UCLA, sound of laughter is a positive sound signifying amusement.
- It was also found that with hearing impairment, humans lose the emotional impact tied to sounds.
- It was also seen that experiences such as nature walks becomes less pleasurable with hearing impairment when humans, for example, can't enjoy the sounds of flowing water.
- A study by Lund University found that the function of the auditory system is to provide aesthetic qualities to sounds such as a bird's song, the wind blowing in the canopy of a tree, and the sound of the sea. This gives refreshment and positive experiences to people.
- Another study found out that sounds centered around a major chord generally produces positive emotions such as happiness, surprise etc.
Sound in the form of Music and Positive Emotions
- A research done by Durham University in the United Kingdom and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland proved that even somber music has the ability to bring pleasure and comfort to its listeners.
- On the other hand, another study from 2013 states that 'listening to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks'.
- Apart from generating positive emotions, music could also reduce negative emotions such as depression and anxiety along with increasing self-esteem.
- According to a scientific study, music is one of the stimuli that is most likely to evoke a memory or intense reaction.
- To look into the physiological reason driving this intense emotional reaction, it was discovered by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital that listening to music released dopamine which was a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for tangible pleasures and which caused physical changes in heart rate, breathing, and temperature which could be assumed to be causing excitement or exhilaration.
Your research team applied the following strategy:
To find out evidences establishing the fact that 'the sense of hearing (sound) is the most important sense when it comes to positive emotions' and to find out supporting qualitative and quantitative evidences, we examined researches, studies, and survey papers on positive emotions and sound and hearing in domains such as sciencemag.org, sciencedirect.com, researchgate, academia, tandfonline, google scholar, archive.org etc. This search was also extended into purely medical studies published in NCBI, Pubmed etc.
From studies published in these sources, it was found that sound or hearing was one of the sensory inputs or stimuli that generated emotions in humans. However, there was no study that established that it was the most important sense when it comes to positive emotions like excitement and exhilaration. Secondly, it was evident that diverse type of sounds generated diverse emotions in humans which could be classified as both positive and negative.
Further, we looked into journals of psychology and psychiatry such as Journal of Positive Psychology and Journal of Psychiatry which although agreed upon the fact that sense of hearing or sound had the potential to generate positive emotions, in absence of comparative studies done with other senses such as touching or seeing, it was difficult to infer whether it was the most important or one of the most important senses when it comes to positive emotions. We also looked into studies done by universities such as Tufts University, UCLA, Lund University, Sweden etc. But none of these studies could provide evidences that the sense of hearing (or sound) is integral to positive emotions. Similar searches were done in sources which commonly publishes scientific articles such as healthline.com or time magazine. But these sources also did not prove the indispensability of the sense of hearing in generating positive emotions. In view of the limitations aforementioned, we deployed the following alternative search strategies:
finding Alternate Datasets
To analyze the topic from a reverse perspective, we decided to look into evidences where sound has been used as the most effective tool to bring someone out of negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and generate positive emotions in him/her. While evidences of sound as a healer of negative emotions was available in sources such as experiencelife.com, upliftconnect.com, Gaia.co, healthline.com, ncbi and scientific American.com, none of these sources provided any information on the comparative aspect of the effectiveness of hearing to the application of other senses. All the studies were focused on the standalone benefits of hearing or sound. Therefore, the data found was not enough to prove it as the most important sense when it comes to positive emotions like excitement and exhilaration.
Checking Credible Databases
The credible databases included medical study database such as NCBI Pubmed, database of journals such as Sagepub and databases of academic studies (overall) such as academia or researchgate. However, none of these sources could lead to any evidence proving the superiority of the sense of hearing.
Locating Paywalled sources
We also looked for comprehensive publications, mostly books, concerning the topic from sites such as Wiley online library, google scholar, tandfonline, archive.org etc. One of the books from Wiley online library called 'The Effects of Sound on People' was found as a paid resource which included topics such as coverage of both positive and negative effects of sound and how the operation of the hearing mechanism affects our reactions to sounds. The book can be purchased here.
Broadening the criteria
In the absence of required data, proving that the sense of hearing is the most important sense when it comes to positive emotions, we expanded the scope to find the relation between the sense of hearing, (sound and music) with that of the generation of positive emotions. Insights, which were obtained from this expansion, has been provided in this brief.