Music, Pleasure, and Meaning: The Hedonic and Eudaimonic Motivations for Music (HEMM) Scale

Merrick Powell*, Kirk N. Olsen, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Many people listen to music that conveys challenging emotions such as sadness and anger, despite the commonly assumed purpose of media being to elicit pleasure. We propose that eudaimonic motivation, the desire to engage with aesthetic experiences to be challenged and facilitate meaningful experiences, can explain why people listen to music containing such emotions. However, it is unknown whether music containing violent themes can facilitate such meaningful experiences. In this investigation, three studies were conducted to determine the implications of eudaimonic and hedonic (pleasure-seeking) motivations for fans of music with violent themes. In Study 1, we developed and tested a new scale and showed that fans exhibit high levels of both types of motivation. Study 2 further validated the new scale and provided evidence that the two types of motivations are associated with different affective outcomes. Study 3 revealed that fans of violently themed music exhibited higher levels of eudaimonic motivation and lower levels of hedonic motivation than fans of non-violently themed music. Taken together, the findings support the notion that fans of music with violent themes are driven to engage with this music to be challenged and to pursue meaning, as well as to experience pleasure. Implications for fans’ well-being and future applications of the new measure are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5157
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023


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