Today I had my music player on shuffle playing random songs from my library, and I just happened to hear “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson, followed by “Paper Heart” by The All-American Rejects. With lyrics like, “I never felt so in love before, just promise baby you’ll love me forevermore,” and “This wait for destiny won’t do, be with me, please, I beseech you”, these two are definitely love songs and they were both singing about having that yearn to be with a special somebody. A few songs later, I realized a lot of the music that is out there (or maybe just the music in my collection) is about love.
But what kind of influence can this plethora of love songs have on our everyday lives? Recent research looked at the effects of love songs on dating behavior. In a study by Jacob et al (1999), the researchers looked at what kind of influence music can have at a flower shop. Interestingly, they found that men, but not women, spent more money in the flower shop when romantic songs were playing then when non-romantic pop songs or no music was played.
In another recent study, Guéguen et al (2010) conducted a “marketing” survey in which women were told they would be discussing organic products with another participant. However, instead of a marketing survey, they were actually exposed to either a romantic or non-romantic song in the waiting room, and later asked for their phone number by another participant who was really part of the study. The researchers found that women who listened to the romantic song before the experiment were much more likely to give out their phone number. 52% of women who listened to the romantic song gave out their phone numbers, whereas only 28% from the non-romantic song group gave out their numbers.
Not only can music change your mood, this research shows it can drastically alter your behavior as well. Why does this happen? Researchers believe it could be that this particular type of music lifts your overall mood, making you more open and receptive to a new possibility. They also think love songs could prime you into a more romantic state, and lead you to look for these situations more and behave in a similar manner. So if you’re single and at your favorite hangout, before approaching the person across the room you’ve been exchanging glances with, you might want to kick on something romantically charged like Michael Jackson or Al Green to up the chances of a receptive interaction!