Suvi Saarikallio

Overview of My Research



I'm Associate Professor of Music Education, Docent of Psychology, and Vice-Head (Head of Research) of Department of Music, Art and Culture studies at University of Jyväskylä, Finland. I'm a proud member of our music psychology research team and widely conduct research and teaching in music psychology, music education, and music therapy. I'm currently the President of Finnish Society for Music Education (FiSME) and the Secretary General of European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM).


My Research

I approach music as human behavior: youth development, emotion regulation, learning and well-being. My methodological expertise is grounded in psychology, but I embrace a multidisciplinary scientific approach and enjoy collaborating with experts of clinical and educational practice to neuroscience and computer science. I actively publish my findings in journals from psychology to music therapy and education.

Listening to Music

Music as emotion regulation

I have identified how people use music to regulate their moods and developed the Music in Mood Regulation (MMR) scale to measure the different strategies (e.g. distraction, solace). With my colleagues we have shown how these strategies relate to emotion induction mechanisms (e.g. memories, emotional contagion), individual differences (e.g. gender), and emotional health (e.g. depression, anxiety). We have also pioneered in identifying neural correlates of preferring certain strategies. We currently study how contextual (situational, cultural) factors explain affect-regulatory outcomes of music listening.

Music as emotion embodiment

Musical emotions and interactions are fundamentally embodied. We have shown that young people can elaborately distinguish emotional expressions in their body movement while playing music and that musical movement reflects internal states: positive mood induces fast and complex dance moves, while clinical depression creates opposite patterns. I've developed the Access-Awareness-Agency model to elaborate how music functions as social-emotional competence by allowing access to the embodied level of our emotionality. I'm currently broadening my focus to the embodied aspects of musical competence, creativity, and interaction.

Playing the Saxophone

Music as wellbeing and development

With colleagues from music therapy I have investigated music as a tool to treat depression and as preventative activity to support adaptive youth development. We have created the Healthy-Unhealthy Music Scale (HUMS) for assessing musical behavior as an indicator of youth depression and shown how musical expression reflects youth empathy and conduct problems. I have also studied how musical perception and expression of emotions typically develops in childhood and how music functions as a means for youth self-regulation and sense of agency. We are currently addressing the cross-cultural aspects of healthy and unhealthy uses of music.


Contact Me

+358 505361900

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