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The psychological role of music listening in emotion regulation for stress coping amongst university students

posted on 14.02.2017, 03:30 by Gao, Zhiwen
This thesis investigates the psychological influence of music listening among university students to assist them to cope with stress. University students often suffer high levels of stress. Music is an important accompaniment for the lives of university students, and it plays a significant role in their stress coping strategies and emotion regulation. The aim of the current research is to examine how university students use music to manage their stress. The researcher was keen to understand university students’ understandings of stress and their coping strategies that involve listening to music. As individual differences exist in human behaviours, individual differences in stress coping and music preferences are considered. The mixed methods research, undertaken using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, reveals that university students have different understandings of stress and anxiety and differing coping methods. However, music has different purposes in daily activities (such as entertainment and accompaniment) and coping with stress or anxiety coping (emotion regulation). The current study for the first time yielded five strategies of coping with music: Emotional/Cognitive self-regulation; Active/Strategic self-regulation; Avoidant/Escapist; Humour; and Spiritual coping strategies. Culture, functions of music use and individual attitudes have potential influences on music preferences among university students. The participants also reported high levels of stress and anxiety, even though they had idiographic understandings of what stress and anxiety are. This study indicates that students who prefer to use music for coping purposes are also likely to use negative (denial and behavioural disengagement) and passive (humour and acceptance) general coping strategies, even though music listening was applied through different coping strategies. The current study confirms that university students’ self-efficacy and attitudes to stressful situations influence their music listening purposes when under stress. In addition, this study also shows that students who use both suppression emotion regulation strategies and music for emotion/cognitive self-regulation purpose are more likely to report high levels of stress.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Jane Southcott

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Monash University. Faculty of Education. Education


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education