Music listening has been suggested to beneficially impact health via stress-reducing effects. However, the existing literature presents itself with a limited number of investigations and with discrepancies in reported findings that may result from methodological shortcomings (e.g. small sample size, no valid stressor). It was the aim of the current study to address this gap in knowledge and overcome previous shortcomings by thoroughly examining music effects across endocrine, autonomic, cognitive, and emotional domains of the human stress response.
Sixty healthy female volunteers (mean age = 25 years) were exposed to a standardized psychosocial stress test after having been randomly assigned to one of three different conditions prior to the stress test: 1) relaxing music (‘Miserere’, Allegri) (RM), 2) sound of rippling water (SW), and 3) rest without acoustic stimulation (R). Salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), heart rate (HR), respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), subjective stress perception and anxiety were repeatedly assessed in all subjects. We hypothesized that listening to RM prior to the stress test, compared to SW or R would result in a decreased stress response across all measured parameters.Music on human stress response