It has long been known that the way in which we perceive the world is largely influenced by the way in which we already know the world; we notice a group of creatures flying in the sky and we automatically perceive these creatures as birds. The brain is able to do this with every encounter, every single experience, that we have in life; this process is often known as “top-down processing.” However researchers at the University of Groningen have found that not only do we perceive things based on experiences we have had in the past, we also perceive things based on the emotional state that we are in at the moment. Not surprisingly enough, music, as such a large factor in affecting our moods as has been already proved by researchers, also affects this top-down processing and influences the way in which we perceive the world around us.
Participants in the study at the University of Groningen were told by researchers to bring fifteen minutes of music that made them feel happy, as well as fifteen minutes of music that made them feel sad, with them to the study. Participants were then shown faces while listening to each category of music. It was found that participants were more likely to identify faces similar to the way the music that they were currently listening to made them feel: they were quick to identify happy faces while listening to happy music, and quick to determine sad faces when listening to sad music. However, the number of false alarms that were reported were largely influenced by the type of music the participant was listening to at the moment: false alarms were likely to be congruent with the type of music (happy or sad) that the participant was listening to. Thus researchers have shown that when presented with an ambiguous face, participants were likely to read that face as based on their mood which was influenced by the music they were currently listening to.
Throughout life we are always looking for a way to improve the way that we see the world; we want to better ourselves. As shown by research, just by making the small decision to listen to music that makes us feel positive, we are improving our world and our perceptions. Article can be accessed at: