A new study by academics from the University of Oxford has shown that love songs and songs of interest are far more popular than the usual love songs on social media, which are often of a purely romantic nature.
The study, entitled Love in Context: How Popular Romantic Love Songs Can Be Made to be Emotional and Creative, has been published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
According to the researchers, popular love songs such as “I want to be with you” and “I love you” are often associated with romantic relationships.
In a previous study, the researchers showed that such songs were often associated to a woman’s sexual activity, suggesting that people might be attracted to a person’s sexual orientation, rather than to their romantic relationship.
In the new study, however, the team wanted to explore how popular romantic love songs might be made to be emotionally and creative.
The team created an online music playlist containing songs from all genres, and then asked participants to write down their thoughts on each song.
The music was then played through a virtual concert hall and participants were asked to rate the emotional impact of each song on them.
“In the previous study we showed that romantic songs that were highly emotionally charged are more likely to be liked by people, so we wanted to understand whether this was also true in the context of music.
To test this, we asked participants which song they liked the most, and also to rate their emotional impact,” says lead author Dr Shilpa Dhar.
The researchers found that participants liked “I Want to Be With You” more when it was about a woman.
Similarly, “Love in Context” by “Lovesick” was liked more by people when it contained a male voice.
The “My Life Would Suck Without You” song by “Sensual” was also liked by more people when the lyrics included an explanation of why the woman loves him so much.
The study also found that when participants were shown the song in question, they were more likely than others to be drawn to the romantic relationship that the song was about.
This was not the case when they were shown a song that was about someone else, such as a man.
“This suggests that songs that are about a person are likely to elicit greater emotional responses than songs about someone other than the person who the song is about,” the researchers wrote.
Dr Dhar adds that although they have not tested this yet, it seems to be true that a woman who likes a man with whom she has a sexual relationship will be more likely in the future to feel that she likes the romantic love that the man has for her, rather then the sexual love that she has for him.
“If you have a relationship with a man, it might be that you feel like the man loves you more than the man love you,” Dr Dhar explains.
“That’s the kind of thing that will encourage you to pursue that relationship more in the long run.”
“The next step will be to explore what the mechanisms are behind this, what the social pressures that lead to liking songs that you like about people that are different than you are,” she says.
“What’s more, how do people choose to respond to those different types of songs that they find so interesting?”