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Does music effect animal behavior?
Question Date: 2013-04-17
Answer 1:

What an interesting question! Scientists have spent a lot of time thinking about how music affects animal's behavior partly because many animals make music of their own. For example, both whales and birds sing songs. Do the songs make them happy? Do they make them feel calm? While we have known for a long time that birds and whales use songs to communicate with each other (the same way we use words) until recently we did not know whether or not this singing actually affected the animal’s moods. But a few years ago a very interesting study tried to figure out how songs affect animals´ moods. A National Symphony Orchestra cellist and a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin teamed up to show that animals other than humans may actually experience emotion through their music.

Have you every listened to a song that makes you so happy you want to sing and dance along? Or a song that is so sad and you don´t know exactly why? Well it turns out animals may have similar feelings from music! The study found that a species of monkey was exposed to different kinds of music made with the monkeys natural calls they actually experienced different emotions. Although human made music had no effect on the monkeys, when a recording of a monkey call meant to serve as an alarm was played to the tune of heavy metal music, the monkeys became very anxious. Then, when a different monkey call was recorded to the sounds of a calming lullaby, the monkeys calmed down.

So what does this mean? Well it might mean that what we experience when we listen to music has an evolutionary history, meaning the idea that we attach emotions to music may be something we have evolved to do. Pretty fascinating, right?

Answer 2:

It affects human behavior, so yes - but I don't know if it's been tested in other animals, or if they just treat music as unimportant sound.

The most plausible hypothesis for whale songs, however, is that they are, in fact, songs, which would mean that humans aren't the only animals that make music.

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