Background: Undergraduate students face tremendous stressors from learning, interpersonal relationships, and life. Stress may cause adaptation exhaustion and stress-related disorders. While the results of recent clinical studies indicate that music interventions may alleviate stress, there is a dearth of research exploring the discrete effects of various genres of music on psycho-physiological status. Purpose: To explore the effects of listening to different genres of music on the psycho-physiological responses of undergraduates. Methods: A one-group, pretest-posttest design was used. A total of 122 undergraduates were assigned to the following four music subgroups according to their musical preference: joyful, tense, sad, and peaceful. Students in each subgroup listened to the self-selected music for 15 minutes during the experiment. A physiological data acquisition systems, the State Anxiety Inventory, and the Visual Analogue Scale for anxiety and depression were used to measure the psycho-physiological responses of participants before, during, and after music listening. Descriptive and inferential analyses were performed using SPSS 20.0. Results: Depression significantly decreased in the peaceful music group compared to the sad music group after the intervention. Further, significant differences in heart rate variability were identified during the intervention among the groups. The change in low frequency (LF) in the joyful music group was lower than the other three groups; the change in high frequency (HF) in the peaceful music group was lower than in the tension and joyful music groups; and the change in LF/HF in the peaceful music group was lower than in the sad and joyful music groups. Additionally, the subsamples with high state anxiety experienced more change in HF while listening to tense music than to peaceful music, reflecting an upward trend after listening for 10 minutes. Conclusions / Implications for Practice: The findings indicate that listening to different genres of music induces different psycho-physiological responses. In the present study, participants with high-state anxiety registered elevated parasympathetic activity after listening to 10 minutes of tense and sad music. Simultaneous listening effects were detected only in joyful and peaceful music, which reduced subjective anxiety and depression. The results of the present study advocate that music interveners and clinical care providers select joyful, peaceful, and tense music to help alleviate the anxiety and negative emotions of their patients. Furthermore, the psycho-physiological changes of these patients should be assessed after listening to this music.
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