Reasons for personal music listening: A mobile experience sampling study of emotional outcomes

William M. Randall, Nikki Sue Rickard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


An important aspect of researching everyday music use is determining the reasons people have for listening to music. While this has been the focus of an extensive body of research, findings have been inconsistent, and the frequencies and affective outcomes of different reasons for listening remain unclear. Emotional reasons for listening are of particular interest, as these have been consistently shown to be of central importance to everyday music use. The current study aimed to provide empirical data to clarify the frequencies of reasons for listening, and their affective outcomes, by using the experience sampling method (ESM). Participants (N = 327; mean age 21.02 years, SD = 6.18) used the MuPsych app, a mobile ESM designed for the real-time and ecologically valid measurement of personal music listening. Results revealed that emotional reasons were most frequently used only when the listener was in a negative mood. Listening to cope with a situation or forget problems was associated with negative affective states and poor emotional health and well-being. It was concluded that personal music listening is utilised to fulfil specific emotional needs, which are determined by initial mood, and influenced by emotional health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-495
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • emotion regulation
  • experience sampling methodology
  • individual differences
  • listening reasons
  • personal music listening
  • smartphone

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