From Music Making to Affective Well-being in Everyday Life: The Mediating Role of Need Satisfaction

Friederike Koehler
Andreas B. Neubauer


How music can provide a pathway to affective well-being has mostly been investigated with regard to listening to music or music therapy. Comparatively, less is known about the effects of active music making on well-being in everyday life or its underlying mechanisms. Self-Determination Theory emphasizes the importance of fulfillment of the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness for well-being and offers a valuable framework for explaining the postulated link between music making and well-being. In the present daily diary study, 1,042 hobby musicians (age range 13 to 82 years; 65.3% female) completed online assessments of their music making, need fulfillment, and positive and negative affect each day for 10 consecutive days. Results showed that need satisfaction and positive affect were higher, while need dissatisfaction and negative affect were lower on days when participants reported music making. Multilevel structural equation models indicated that the effect of music making on positive affect was mediated by satisfaction of all three needs, with statistically significant indirect effects via autonomy and competence at both the within- and between person level, and relatedness only at the between-person level. There were no statistically significant mediation effects for negative affect. This study is the first to provide evidence for higher affective well-being of hobby musicians on days of music making. Results further suggest satisfaction of basic psychological needs as a mediating mechanism and emphasize the importance to distinguish between indicators of positive functioning (positive affect, need satisfaction) and negative functioning (negative affect, need dissatisfaction). (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)