I have now printed my thesis in a little book according to Dutch tradition. If you would like a copy, you can contact me (I will ask you to contribute to the costs of the book).
The ability to regulate affect has widely been recognized as being crucial for a healthy psychological life. Although existing literature provided a focus on affect regulation strategies such as reappraisal, more specific tactics such as listening to music had also previously been defined. However, the difference between the levels on which affect regulation can occur had not been clearly recognized in the literature. Nevertheless, it had been suggested that music listening was a potentially widely used and effective tactic.
The aim of this thesis was to demonstrate how affect regulation can be studied in everyday life, including four levels of analysis of a newly proposed framework: goals, strategies, tactics, and underlying mechanisms (the GSTM framework). To demonstrate the use of this framework music listening in everyday life for affect regulation was investigated. A mixed method design was used including a literature study, two survey studies, a diary study with follow-up semi-structured interviews, and finally a diary-based intervention study. All participants were recruited at a university in the Midlands, UK, with the majority being young adults. Participants had no specific musical background and were not known to have experienced psychological problems.
The thesis generated a list of reliably judged strategies which were found to be used in everyday life (relaxation, distraction, active coping, rational thinking, venting, and introspection), and demonstrated that music listening is used more often than, and for a wider range of strategies than any other tactic. Different underlying mechanisms of music were discovered showing not only musical features but also factors such as memories and music-unrelated activities as being responsible for the ways in which music helped to regulate affect. The results illustrated how participants regulated strong affects by using a stepwise approach, whereas participants reporting unsuccessful regulation attempts often attempted to regulate their affect all at once. Participants were able to include more music listening in their affect regulation habits when requested. In addition, other widely used tactics were established, opening up avenues for further research. This thesis has established the important role of music listening for affect regulation purposes, and demonstrated that it is possible to investigate the operation of affect regulation in everyday life including every level of analysis through an everyday life design.