Do you feel alone? Turn up the music volume!

Sound helps combat feelings of loneliness, especially during times of isolation and quarantine related to COVID-19.

People who are socially excluded show a preference for higher volume sounds, like music or background noise, compared to those who feel socially accepted, and higher volumes may help, a new study has found. to combat the feeling of exclusion. Loud noises are not only desired as a result of social exclusion, they are also effective in alleviating the negative psychological effects of social exclusion, such as social pain, feelings of anger, loneliness and low mood. deteriorated,” the lead author said. It appears that preferences for louder volumes may not be driven solely by physiological reasons, such as wanting to get more sensory pleasure from loud music, but by a need for social connection.

This research is particularly important as we look for ways to endure and recover from the enforced social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia and around the world. Loneliness is both pervasive and costly. For example, it can be seen as the psychological version of chronic pain, which can hamper work productivity by acting as a distraction. In times of COVID, the repercussions could be more severe, such as not being able to tolerate loneliness during periods of confinement or quarantine, which could lead to violations of social distancing protocols.

Listening to loud music helps beat loneliness

“Sound seems like a very convenient and free alternative that could help in these circumstances.” According to Dr. Wang, director of the study, the reason is that sound conveys a sense of interpersonal closeness with others. Sound reflects physical and social closeness to other people. This is because lively, bustling places tend to be noisier than lifeless, barren places. Also, people tend to be more talkative in the presence of friends and quieter in the presence of strangers, so over time loud sounds might remind us of lively events and people we are closer to. .

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The cure for loneliness isn’t just high sound volumes, and many people can recognize times in their lives when they’re unaware of using sound as social solace. This could explain why people often seem to prefer background noise, even when they don’t intend to pay attention to it. Like leaving the TV on while doing chores, or even when noise can potentially interfere with the task at hand, like listening to music while studying.

Sound: the trace of the crucial social link for every man

The study looked at 12 experiments with more than 2,000 people in Australia, Singapore, the UK and the US. This study shows that people tend to instinctively avoid loud sounds because of their physical discomfort. But less was known why people also tend to avoid excessively quiet environments.
According to Dr. Wang, loneliness is more than just an unpleasant feeling and can have long-term psychological and physiological effects. Feeling physically and socially close to other people is crucial for everyday life and the need to belong is considered a basic human need. Social exclusion can threaten things like self-esteem, mood, quality of life and longevity.

There is potential for this research to be used in settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. It can also be used for people who have solitary jobs, live alone, or endure a period of COVID-19 quarantine. Turning up the volume can dampen negative emotions, likely due to the sense of companionship it provides.


Deming Wang et al, Loudness Perceptions Influence Feelings of Interpersonal Closeness and Protect Against Detrimental Psychological Effects of Social Exclusion, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2021).

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