Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Why Music Makes You Feel Better with Pablo Ripollés and Ernest Mas Herrero

May 2, 2021

In this episode we are thrilled to be discussing our two favorite topics: human behavior and music. We learn that music, more than any other activity, can help lift our mood, during COVID. Our guests Pablo Ripollés PhD and Ernest Mas Herrero have spent years studying how the brain responds to rewards, learning and memory. Early in the pandemic, they decided to conduct research on a long list of activities that people were doing at home to manage their stress and increase the pleasure in their lives. While a number of the activities were found to help with mental health, the research overwhelmingly showed that engaging with music was the best way to lift your mood.

We have a really engaging conversation with Pablo and Ernest about their research findings on wellbeing and music. They believe that because listening to music is a passive activity and is so accessible, or “fun and free” as they call it, everyone can experience pleasure from it. And it’s not just listening to music; dancing, singing or playing music are all beneficial.  We also learn that the best type of music to engage with is whatever music you really enjoy: “It will be beneficial as long as it is pleasurable.”

The questionnaire Pablo and Ernest discuss in the podcast is the Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire It will take you only a few minutes to find out about your individual sensitivity to musical reward. And you can also read Pablo and Ernest’s full research article: “Rock ’n’ Roll but not Sex or Drugs: Music is negatively correlated to depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic via reward-related mechanisms” 

Listen in to find out more from Pablo and Ernest about how music can benefit your mental wellbeing. And If you’d like to support the work we do at Behavioral Grooves bringing you interesting research insights, please consider becoming a Patreon member at

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves Topics

(0:06) Introduction

(5:20) Speed Round Questions

(8:44) Research Insights with Pablo and Ernest

(36:50) Grooving Session

(50:26) Bonus Track

Musical Links 

Dropkick Murphys 


Catalan music 


Depeche Mode 

Aretha Franklin “Think” 


“Rock ’n’ Roll but not Sex or Drugs: Music is negatively correlated to depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic via reward-related mechanisms” Herrero et al (2020): 

“Neural correlates of specific musical anhedonia” Martínez-Molina et al (2016):

Pablo Ripollés: 

Ernest Mas Herrero: 

Jamón ibérico 

Lionel Messi 

Michael Jordan 

Roger Federer 

“Goal Gradient Theory” Kivetz et al (2006): 

Robert Zatorre, PhD

Neomi Singer, PhD 

Laura Ferreri, University of Lyon 

Michael McPhee, NYU  

Hedonia and anhedonia 

Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire 


The Ikea Effect,of%20furniture%20that%20require%20assembly

The Singing Revolution 

Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Baroque Music 

Agatha Christie 

Other Podcast Episodes

Dessa: The Attention Shepherd on the Curious Act of Being Deeply Human” 

The Counterintuitive Persuasion of The Catalyst with Jonah Berger 

Chris Matyszczyk: Listening to Music While You Work

Covid-19 Crisis: Emotional Impact of WFH with Liz Fosslien 

Jonah Berger episode: “The Counterintuitive Persuasion of The Catalyst with Jonah Berger neither hosts nor alters podcast files. All content © its respective owners.