Hypothesis & Theory ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 02 January 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00393

Music, neuroscience, and the psychology of well-being: a précis

  • 1 Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • 2 Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

In Flourish, the positive psychologist Seligman (2011) identifies five commonly recognized factors that are characteristic of human flourishing or well-being: (1) “positive emotion,” (2) “relationships,” (3) “engagement,” (4) “achievement,” and (5) “meaning” (p. 24). Although there is no settled set of necessary and sufficient conditions neatly circumscribing the bounds of human flourishing (Seligman, 2011), we would mostly likely consider a person that possessed high levels of these five factors as paradigmatic or prototypical of human flourishing. Accordingly, if we wanted to go about the practical task of actually increasing our level of well-being, we ought to do so by focusing on practically increasing the levels of the five factors that are characteristic of well-being. If, for instance, an activity such as musical engagement can be shown to positively influence each or all of these five factors, this would be compelling evidence that an activity such as musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. I am of the belief that psychological research can and should be used, not only to identify and diagnose maladaptive psychological states, but identify and promote adaptive psychological states as well. In this article I advance the hypothesis and provide supporting evidence for the claim that musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. Since there has not yet been a substantive and up-to-date investigation of the possible role of music in contributing to one’s living a flourishing life, the purpose of this article is to conduct this investigation, thereby bridging the gap and stimulating discussion between the psychology of music and the psychology of well-being.

Keywords: music, neuroscience, well-being, positive emotions, relationships, flow, achievement, meaning

Citation: Croom AM (2012) Music, neuroscience, and the psychology of well-being: a précis. Front. Psychology 2:393. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00393

Received: 22 September 2011; Accepted: 15 December 2011;
Published online: 02 January 2012.

Edited by:

Dan Lloyd, Trinity College, USA

Reviewed by:

Andrea Eugenio Cavanna, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Douglas Bruce Johnson, Music Conservatory of Westchester, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Croom. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Adam M. Croom, Positive Psychology Center and Department of Psychology, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. e-mail: adam.m.croom@gmail.com

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