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Viral tunes: changes in musical behaviours and interest in coronamusic predict socio-emotional coping during COVID-19 lockdown

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  • Lauren K. Fink, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck NYU Center for Language
  • ,
  • Lindsay A. Warrenburg, Sonde Health, Inc
  • ,
  • Claire Howlin, Queen Mary University of London
  • ,
  • William M. Randall, University of Jyväskylä
  • ,
  • Niels Chr Hansen
  • Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck NYU Center for Language

Beyond immediate health risks, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a variety of stressors, which may require expensive or unavailable strategies during a pandemic (e.g., therapy, socialising). Here, we asked whether musical engagement is an effective strategy for socio-emotional coping. During the first lockdown period (April–May 2020), we surveyed changes in music listening and making behaviours of over 5000 people, with representative samples from three continents. More than half of respondents reported engaging with music to cope. People experiencing increased negative emotions used music for solitary emotional regulation, whereas people experiencing increased positive emotions used music as a proxy for social interaction. Light gradient-boosted regressor models were used to identify the most important predictors of an individual’s use of music to cope, the foremost of which was, intriguingly, their interest in “coronamusic.” Overall, our results emphasise the importance of real-time musical responses to societal crises, as well as individually tailored adaptations in musical behaviours to meet socio-emotional needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number180
JournalHumanities and social sciences communications
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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