Touched by Music: Attachment-Related Differences in Music-Induced Crying and Lyrics
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Adult attachment controls the approach a person uses when confronted with emotional events. Individual differences in handling these situations can be understood by understanding the underlying mechanisms of attachment. The focus of this research is to investigate attachment-related differences in music-induced crying by exploring the connection of language, more specifically song lyrics, attachment and crying. It was hypothesized that the croon songs of anxiously (fearfully and preoccupiedly) attached individuals will contain more negative and less positive emotion words in their lyrics than those of securely attached individuals. The croon songs of dismissively attached individuals were expected to contain less positive and negative attachment-specific words than croon songs of anxiously attached individuals and the secure and dismissive group were expected to appreciate the beauty of the lyrics more often than the other two groups. The sample consisted of 3032 Dutch radio listeners (38% male, 62% female), who completed a number of questionnaires about attachment, crying behavior and the last song that made them cry. The mean age was 36.92 years (SD=12.13). Thirty-six top croon-songs emerged, divided by the four attachment styles (secure, fearful, preoccupied and dismissive). The song lyrics were analyzed by the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) computer program on positive and negative emotion- and attachment-related words. The probability of correlational significance was small due to small N (36), so besides performing an ANOVA, also effect sizes (Cohen´s d) were computed to express the strength of the relationships between the variables. It was found that the croon songs of the two anxiously attached groups contained more positive and less negative emotion words. The results have also shown that croon songs of fearfully attached individuals contained less negative attachment-specific words than those of the dismissive group and that croon songs of dismissives also contained slightly more positive and negative attachment-specific words than those of preoccupiedly attached individuals. There was no evidence that the secure and preoccupied groups appreciated croon song lyrics more often than the other two groups. Our findings were not corresponding with the stated hypotheses the way we expected, but in the discussion part of this study there is a number of encouraging theoretical explanations for these results.