I am a proud 90’s baby.
I was born during the reign of baggy jeans and overalls.
I was born during the hype of the Power Rangers and F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
I was born during the era of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 98o, and my all time favorite, *NSYNC. I am a proud *NSYNC fan (I have all their albums- including their Greatest Hits album. I’m just saying.).
For some reason, the music of the 90’s is what stuck to me the most. Whenever I would hear songs from this decade, I think not of the repetitive melodies and the ridiculously cheesy lines (including “I don’t know what he does to make you cry, but I’ll be there to make you smile” and “When I look into your eyes I know that it’s true. God must’ve spent a little more time on you,”). Instead, I recall that Christmas when we had to dance to Backstreet Boys in front of my whole family (getting P20 in exchange), that time when my cousins and I would sing along whenever Britney Spears’ new single would play on MTV, and that time when I would talk to my parents out loud whenever Eminem’s songs would play in the car, just to mask out all the cuss words in his songs.
I remember my childhood and the good (well, sometimes the bad) experiences linked to these songs. And honestly, nothing gives me the same kind of feeling. Listening to these kinds of music brings back nothing but good vibes.
Interestingly, it looks like several researchers feel the same way about their own generation’s music. Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E. investigated on the effects of felt emotion and arousal induced by music on memory performance. Emotion was measured by the participants’ ratings of the music’s valence, while arousal was measured based on the participants’ excitation levels upon listening to the music. The researchers were able to carry out their study using two conditions: an “emotion group” was asked to rate the music’s valence, intensity and arousal as it is being played (systematic processing), and a “time-estimation group” was asked to measure the length of the music being played (superficial processing). Upon being segregated randomly between the two conditions and actually undergoing their designated treatments, they were asked to rate the stimuli’s arousal, valence and emotional intensity. Two days after undergoing their corresponding treatments, the participants were tested on their ability to recognize the songs previously presented to them (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).
Their results show that their hypothesis regarding the effect of felt emotions does hold true. Music rated to be more positive was found to be positively related to their recognition ability (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008). Although they were able to relate the effect of emotions, they were not able to find significant results as to the effect of arousal on memory performance. Thus, their hypothesis that stimuli rated to have high arousal effects on the participants would be remembered better does not hold true (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).
The researchers predicted that the participants part of the “emotion group” would perform better at memory performance, being that they were subjected to deep and systematic processing, yet their results show that there is no significant different between the performance of the two groups. Such results are surprising, according to the researchers, yet they attribute such findings to their experimental conditions (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).
The researchers didn’t explicitly mention a particular cause to their findings. Based on the past topics discussed in class, I would say that melody schema would have played a role in the recognition of the tunes. Although it doesn’t directly explain the relationship between emotions and recognition, it would be possible that this would be partly responsible for recognition. The participants could have compared the music to their already stored schema and identified correctly based on this.
I could always rely on music to take me back to happier times. If you ask for my own explanation to their findings, I would simply say: People want and tend to remember things that remind them of instances that make them feel good.
I await for the day that researchers would find a concrete neurological basis to this fact (since according to these researchers, such studies are still taking place). Til then, I will enjoy my 90’s pop songs, with a big smile on my face. 🙂
Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E. (2008). Unforgettable film music: The role of emotion in episodic long-term memory for music.BMC Neuroscience, 9. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/48.