Individual Differences and Ambivalence When Influencing Mind States


Relaxation and sleep are the most frequently reported effects. In 238 comments, representing approximately 42% of the selected 564 first-level commentaries, users wrote that they found peace and became relaxed or sleepy – or slept – when listening to these winter winds.


This is great! I just snuggled up under a blanket and covered my eyes (in the middle of the afternoon). Suddenly I was there, in the midst of it ... fell asleep within a minute or two. (comment by Machru, Video 1)


I have fallen asleep to this for the past three nights. I can see why others think it's terrifying, but it relaxes me...? Not sure why, but it clears my thoughts so I can sleep. Thanks for posting this. (comment by Elliott Walker, Video 1)


when ur stressed ur gona fail ur exam. (comment by Ricky Rodriguez, Video 1)


An interesting aspect concerning relaxation is that the sounds have some similarities with “white noise,” or other broad-spectrum static noises that are traditionally used to achieve a relaxing state. Broad-spectrum noise can also mask symptoms of tinnitus, and a handful of the comments explained how users dealt with the condition of tinnitus by masking its rather constant sound with a more enjoyable one. This resonates very well with how Hagood (and others) describes the various attempts to use broadband noise to “fight” tinnitus. However, the number of such comments is quite low in our material.


Finding a relaxed state is only one part of the picture. 101 persons reported the effect of feeling uncomfortable or ambivalent towards the experience of these geophonies. Typically, the soundtracks are in such cases either described as “terrifying,” “spooky,” or “creepy,” or users will express individual ambivalence: “terrifying, but calming” and “relaxing or sinister?” 


this makes me anxious. (comment by Haidar Alley, Video 2)


Ok I'll go back to rain sounds, creeping me out. (comment by BigTimeAndy, Video 2)


it scares me more than anything it sounds like a tornado getting closer and closer. (comment by Justin Williams, Video 1)


Cool but scary. (comment by staub feger, Video 1)


Yet another part of the picture is that users signal other motivations and results. Some reported that they use these sounds to concentrate and achieve an attentive state towards activities other than listening. In 27 comments people are positive about playing back the sound of Arctic winds to support studying and reading, while 15 others refer to how the geophonies are used to support either work or creative pursuits.


I listen to this while reading my psych textbooks. Good stuff. It makes me want to wear a scarf while listening. (comment by Giles Hawthorn, Video 1)


I'm listening to this while reading 'Biggles in the Antarctic'. It adds so much atmosphere. (comment by Isaac Reed, Video 1


I was stressing and trying to study, this really helped. Thanks. (comment by Olwethu Dyasi, Video 1)

Very good for reading. Especially during intense moments with scenes taking place during winter. Great vid. (comment by Charles,  Video 2)


It is interesting, but not surprising, to note that some of these comments refer to how the experience involves the phenomenon of creating mental images, thus corresponding to Bachelard’s poetic image or Ihde’s visual imagination. Thus, the recorded geophonies can potentially trigger associations or evoke internal visual images of landscapes with endless white snow and ice.


In the case of music, Herbert (2016: 59f) connects visual imagination and listening when discussing what she calls “visual listening,” describing how music can evoke an experience of an imaginary “filmic narrative.” Visual imagery is also mentioned as one of the seven underlaying mechanisms through which music might induce emotions (Juslin et al. 2010: 1170), combined with “episodic memories.”