Background: Empirical support for the notion that music listening is beneficial for stress recovery is inconclusive, potentially due to the methodological diversity with which the effects of music on stress recovery have been investigated. Little is presently known about which recovery activities are chosen by individuals for the purpose of stress recovery, and whether audio feature commonalities exist between different songs that are selected by individuals for the purpose of stress recovery. The current pre-registered study investigated whether audio feature commonalities can be extracted from self-selected songs for the purpose of stress recovery. Furthermore, the present study exploratorily examined the relationship between audio features and participants’ desired recovery-related emotions while listening and after listening to self-selected music. Methods: Participants (N = 470) completed an online survey in which they described what music they would listen to unwind from a hypothetical stressful event. Data analysis was conducted using a split-sample procedure. A k-medoid cluster analysis was conducted to identify audio feature commonalities between self-selected songs. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between audio features and desired recovery emotions. Results: Participants valued music listening as a recovery activity to a similar extent as watching TV, sleeping, or talking to a significant other. Cluster analyses revealed that self-selected songs for the purpose of stress recovery can be grouped into two distinct categories. The two categories of songs shared similarities in key, loudness, speechiness, acousticness, instrumentalness, liveness, musical valence, tempo, duration, and time signature, and were distinguished by danceability, energy, and mode. No audio features were significantly associated with participants’ desired recovery emotions. Conclusions: Although a comprehensive portrait of the relationship between audio features and stress recovery still warrants further research, the present study provides a starting point for future enquiries into the nuanced effects of musical audio features on stress recovery.
- Audio features