Better Off Alone? When Sharing Music Reduces Pleasure Responses

Federico Curzel, Giulio Carraturo, Pablo Ripollés, Laura Ferreri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing literature has identified the social dimension as one of the crucial mechanisms behind musical pleasure. However, the effect of the social context on the emotional experience associated with music remains unclear. Indeed, some previous studies observed no significant differences between listening to music in a group and alone in terms of emotional responses. In contrast, listening to music with a close friend or a partner has been associated with higher responses of pleasure and enjoyment compared to listening alone. In the current study, we aimed to investigate the effect of music listening in a group versus solo context focusing specifically on pleasure-related responses. In addition, we conducted an exploration of the individual factors which may impact on the experience of reward. Forty-one healthy participants were asked to provide pleasure-related ratings whilst undergoing music listening sessions both individually and in a group. We found higher self-reported pleasure and other related emotional responses when participants were listening to music alone rather than in a group. Also, the exploration of the underlying mechanisms of the relationship between listening pleasure and the social context revealed that concentration was not a determinant of musical pleasure, and that a higher feeling of connection with the co-listeners was associated with higher pleasure ratings in the group condition, even though knowing someone in the group did not increase pleasure. In light of our findings, we discuss strengths and limitations of our and previous solo versus group music-based studies, and suggest how to potentially foster pleasure-related responses in social music contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023


  • differences
  • emotion
  • individual
  • musical reward
  • pleasure
  • social context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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