Science behind why we love, or hate, Christmas music

Psychologist: Mood dictates interest or annoyance in holiday music

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DETROIT - Music sets the mood for any occasion.

Love it or hate it, Christmas music is everywhere during the holiday season.

Psychologist Victoria Williamson, Ph.D from Goldsmiths, University of London says their is a real science behind out appreciation or dislike of endless renditions of, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or any familiar holiday tune.

Williamson describes the phenomenon as the, "mere exposure effect."

She says a "U-shaped relationship" exists with the songs we hear, the amount of times we hear them and the positive or negative reaction we have, reported

Williamson says the first time you hear a song, you may like it. After hearing the song several times the appeal may continue to grow.

Eventually, as the song continues to be herd, over exposure kicks in and interest is lost.

That's when a once-liked song becomes the source of annoyance and repetition.

Williamson suggests that our psychological mood will dictate our interest or annoyance.

People who find the season stressful or a source of worry will react negatively to holiday music.

To someone who is missing a loved one or experiencing financial stress around the holidays, Christmas music is a musical reminder of their woes.

But, holiday music takes on a different meaning to those who see the season as a celebration of family and friends, a time steeped in religious traditions, or perhaps a season filled with memories.

To these people Christmas music is a source of joy that sets a pleasant backdrop to the holiday.

Research suggests Christmas music may even cause us to spend more money and provides proof of why holiday music is played in department stores.

Eric Spangenberg, Ph.D, and dean of the College of Business at Washington State University in Pullman, studied the influence of Christmas music on shoppers.

He says music with a slow tempo will slow down shoppers and keep them in stores longer while lively music is shown to move shoppers through the store faster.

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