A new study says ‘yes’. The title of the study, Undetectable very-low frequency sound increases dancing at a live concert, highlights that the authors found that bass so low you many not even consciously hear it can subliminally influence your behavior.
In other words – when the sub-bass kicks in, people want to dance more.
Here’s how the authors summarize their study:
“We tested whether non-auditory low-frequency stimulation would increase audience dancing by turning very-low frequency (VLF) speakers on and off during a live electronic music concert and measuring audience members’ movements using motion-capture. Movement increased when VLFs were present, and because the VLFs were below or near auditory thresholds (and a subsequent experiment suggested they were undetectable), we believe this represents an unconscious effect on behaviour, possibly via vestibular and/or tactile processing.”
Why does bass you can’t even hear make you want to dance?
The authors say that low frequency sound is processed via vibrotactile and vestibular pathways, in addition to auditory pathways. Stimulation of these non-auditory modalities in the context of music can increase ratings of groove, and modulate musical rhythm perception. They go on to add that “Anecdotal accounts describe intense physical and psychological effects of low frequencies, especially in electronic dance music, possibly reflecting effects on physiological arousal.”
Via Dean Whitbread