The universal power of empathy: The science behind why everyone loves Adele

If empathy connects us to our environment and those around us—as the University of Virginia’s James Coan suggests, it’s the building block of friendship—it’s also indicative of how we process music.

The chemicals our bodies release when we listen to a sad song, oxytocin and prolactin, are the hormones “associated with social bonding and nurturance.” As Dr. Krystyne I. Batcho writes in Psychology Today, artists like Adele can “[enhance] a sense of social connectedness or bonding”—whether that’s in a longing for the past or in an overwhelming gratitude for the present.