The melody to inspiration: The effects of awe-eliciting music on approach motivation and positive well-being

Qihao Ji, Sophie H. Janicke-Bowles, Rebecca N.H. De Leeuw, Mary Beth Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Rooted in the rich soil of positive psychology, scholarship on the uses and effects of self-transcendent media content that elicits other-oriented emotions has flourished in the past few years, covering a full range of media content such as movies, online videos, social media posts, and news stories. The current research aimed to gain a better understanding of the positive consequences of consuming self-transcendent media with a particular focus on music–a medium that is frequently identified as inspiring. Specifically, two studies were conducted to examine the degree to which self-transcendent music (manifested as awe-eliciting music) can boost listeners’ activated positive affect and prosociality relative both to the natural baseline condition (Study 1) and to amusing/hedonic condition (Study 2). Results show that while awe-eliciting music did not directly contribute to increases of well-being variables compared to amusing music, inspiration was a crucial mediator through which awe-eliciting music exerted influences on participants’ perceptions of meaning in life and universality. Results are reflected in the broader context of positive media psychology, and implications for music’s potential to inspire are discussed in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-331
Number of pages27
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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