Why do people like to listen to sad songs?

Sadness is not a positive feeling, so people should avoid it, right? Listening to sad songs is like inflicting some pain to yourself just for pleasure.

Did someone studied this? Why do people like sad songs? Is it similar mechanism to masochism? What is evolutionary role of feeling sad on purpose? What is neurological background of this phenomenon?

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    $\begingroup$ This is more about psychology than biology. And psychologically, knowing that other people experience the kind of pain that you do is comforting, not masochistic. $\endgroup$ – Karl Kjer Dec 10 '17 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/… is a good start: apparently "empathisers" like sad songs more than others do. $\endgroup$ – Fizz Dec 13 '17 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ Because “Sad songs say so much”, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sad_Songs_(Say_So_Much) $\endgroup$ – jjack Dec 29 '17 at 10:23

Maya Tamir's work probably sheds the most light here. Her work suggests that we're not merely trying to avoid bad feelings and promote good ones. Instead, we want to feel what's most useful to us. We want to feel emotions that help us realize our goals (Tamir, 2009). If we think sadness has some positive behavioral value, then we'll try to upregulate it.

Rumination is an extreme example of this kind of focus on negative feelings, where chronic ruminators share metacognitive beliefs about the positive value of focusing on negative feelings and thoughts (e.g., Papageorgiou & Wells, 2001). They think that rumination helps them to understand their feelings and prevent future mistakes, even though it's ultimately maladaptive.

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks but third link doesn't work $\endgroup$ – user46147 Dec 28 '17 at 10:36

I'm not sure of the research on this one, but there are probably many reasons why. For one, it is like role-playing or perspective taking. One is not actually sadened but takes on the role of it. It can be an enjoyable, unique experience.

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    $\begingroup$ This post does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Dec 27 '17 at 23:43

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