Message in the Music: Do Lyrics Influence Well-Being?


Music has long been an effective way to communicate to the masses, and lyrics have played a massive role in delivering this communication. Yet the opportunity for research on the role lyrics play in well-being is vastly underutilized. This paper is an exploration of the relationship between lyrics and positive psychology. I will discuss a brief origin of lyrics, examine the body of literature on lyrics as well as its gaps, and finally suggest potential application of lyrics to increasing various aspects of well-being. We are only beginning to have the language to discuss the positive and negative effects of lyrics. The results of this exploration indicate that lyrics have the potential to increase two of the five elements of well-being in the PERMA model, positive emotions and meaning. It is suggested that you can increase well-being by mindfully listening to meaning-filled lyrics bolstered by music’s ability to influence emotion. Considering music’s accessibility and commonality, the relationship between lyrics and positive psychology has the potential for a broad impact that can contribute to Martin Seligman’s goal of 51% of the population flourishing by 2051.

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