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Positivity bias and functional bifurcation in the psychological use of coronamusic during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020

IMC Tuesday Seminar: Talk by Niels Chr. Hansen, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies & Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University

Info about event


Tuesday 31 May 2022,  at 11:00 - 12:30


Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, building 1483, room 312 and online (https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/my/imcevents)

Niels Chr. Hansen

During the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, musical engagement became the potentially most frequent leisure activity, beating exercise, sleep, and consumption of other media as the most effective strategy for enhancing mental health for at least half of the general population. In this talk, I draw on recent results from the global MUSICOVID research network and a brand-new special issue on the topic to demonstrate how corona-themed music was created and consumed to cultivate collective connections and seek solitary solace (Howlin & Hansen, in press; Hansen, in press A). Our international survey study (n=5,113) (Fink et al., 2021) showed that interest in coronamusic emerged as the strongest predictor of successful coping via music. People experiencing negative affect used music for solitary emotion regulation whereas positive-experiencers used it as a proxy for social interaction. Follow-up qualitative and quantitative studies of coronamusic videos from our crowdsourced database (Hansen et al., 2021; Hansen, in press B), and social-media data from Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, and YouTube largely support this functional bifurcation in the psychological use of music for coping. The originally hypothesized positivity bias—i.e., the tendency for corona-themed music to be governed by positive sentiment and humour in contrast to the negative impact of the global health crisis—was present in one of these strands of pandemic musicking. The great prominence and coping potential of topically tailored musical repertoires and modes of expression suggest that throughout human prehistory, topical musical innovations—such as the coronamusics of 2020—may have served to build psychological resilience when faced with societal crisis.

About the speaker
Niels Chr. Hansen is an Assistant Professor at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies & Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University. He is General Secretary of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, a member of the Danish Young Academy, and co-founded the global #MUSICOVID research network. His research has been published widely within the fields of psychology (e.g., Psychological Science, Frontiers in Psychology), music cognition (e.g., Musicae Scientiae, Music Perception, Music & Science), neuroscience (e.g., Neuroimage, Journal of Neuroscience, Human Brain Mapping), music theory (Dutch Journal of Music Theory, Danish Yearbook of Musicology), and the interdisciplinary sciences (e.g., Scientific Reports, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, PLOS ONE).