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Uses of music and psychological well-being among the elderly

Abstract

A questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 500 community living older adults in Sweden (aged 65–75 years). The questionnaire assessed uses of music in everyday life: frequency of listening, situations where music is encountered, emotional responses to music, and motives for listening (i.e., listening strategies). Also, different facets of psychological well-being (e.g., affective well-being, life satisfaction, and eudaimonic well-being) and selected background variables (e.g., education level, health status, activity level, and Big-5 personality characteristics) were assessed. Results showed that listening to music is a common leisure activity encountered in many everyday situations, and that listening to music is a frequent source of positive emotions for older adults. Also, the participants reported using a variety of listening strategies related to emotional functions (e.g., pleasure, mood regulation, and relaxation) and issues of identity, belonging, and agency. The associations between listening strategies and well-being were explored through correlation and multiple regression analyses where the influence of background variables was controlled for. Health status and personality were the most important predictors of well-being, but some listening strategies were also significantly associated with psychological well-being. The results give important insights into older adults’ uses of music in everyday life and give clues regarding possible relationships between musical activities and well-being.

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Acknowledgment

This work was supported by the research program ‚Arts in Hospital and Care as Culture’ within Stockholm Country Council through a grant to Petri Laukka.

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Appendix

Appendix

For the purpose of data reduction, the frequencies of listening strategies, as reported in Table II, were subjected to principal-components analysis. Guided by conceptual and practical considerations (e.g., the theoretical interest of the item, and the correlation with other items), seven items (items 6, 7, 8, 12, 15, 23, and 28) were excluded from the analysis. The remaining set of variables was deemed appropriate for factor analysis (Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin measure of sampling adequacy = 0.922). A principal components analysis with orthogonal (varimax) rotation yielded a solution with four factors. Multiple criteria were used to decide on the appropriate number of factors to retain: scree test, the latent root criterion (e.g., eigenvalues of 1 or greater), and the interpretability of solutions (see Hair et al., 1998; Zwick and Velicer, 1986). The solution accounted for 68% of the total variance and the factor structure was clear and interpretable with few cross-loading items. The first factor was labeled ‚Identity and agency’ and contained items like ‚to strengthen my self esteem’, ‚express my personality’, and ‚it makes me feel competent’ (included items = 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27; mean factor loading = .74; see Table II for a description of the items). The second factor was labeled ‚Mood regulation’ and included items that were concerned with the regulation of various affective states and the evoking of (presumably emotional) memories; e.g., ‚music induces emotions’, ‚to enhance positive moods’, ‚it evokes memories’ (included items = 2, 9, 11, 17, 18, 21; mean factor loading = 0.61). The third factor was labeled ‚Relaxation and company’ and included items like ‚to reduce feelings of loneliness’, ‚to forget about the present’, and ‚to relax and calm down’ (included items = 4, 10, 13, 14, 22; mean factor loading = 0.67). Finally, the fourth factor was labeled ‚Enjoyment’ and included items like ‚it gives me pleasure’ and ‚for entertainment’ (included items = 1, 3, 5, 16; mean factor loading = 0.75).

The average scores of the variables belonging to each factor were used to create composite measures of each factor for subsequent use in the correlation and regression analyses: ‚Agency and identity’ (mean rating = 1.92, SD = 1.16, Cronbach alpha = 0.90), ‚Mood regulation’ (M = 2.93, SD = 1.36, alpha = 0.88), ‚Relaxation and company’ (M = 3.17, SD = 1.38, alpha = 0.84), and ‚Enjoyment’ (M = 4.32, SD = 1.40, alpha = 0.82). As can be seen from the above alpha values, the internal consistencies of the measures were good. ‚Enjoyment’ was found to be positively skewed (since most people reported enjoying music), and was therefore reflected and transformed to near-normality using the square-root transformation before inclusion in the analyses. After the transformation, ‚Enjoyment’ was reflected back, so that a positive correlation would again indicate higher enjoyment. The intercorrelations between the measures were low to moderate (max correlation r = 0.51 between ‚Identity and agency’ and ‚Mood regulation’) – thus the variables were deemed suitable for inclusion in the multiple regressions analyses. Though not reported, the regression analyses were also conducted using factor scores instead of composite measures. These analyses yielded nearly identical results, which increases the robustness of the findings.

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Laukka, P. Uses of music and psychological well-being among the elderly. J Happiness Stud 8, 215 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-006-9024-3

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Keywords

  • emotion
  • everyday life
  • identity
  • music
  • psychological well-being.