Have you ever wondered where your music taste came from? Perhaps your taste in music is totally different from your parents, or possibly even your siblings, and you’ve been left wondering how you branched out into an area so different to them. Well, it turns out that your music taste could actually stem from your personality traits that you’ve acquired since birth. According to two major studies conducted by psychologists from Cambridge and top US universities have found your personality type can actually be accurately predicted from your musical tastes – and vice versa.
According to the research results, people who like easy-listening music are more likely to be talkative and energetic, while those who opt for music genre’s like Opera are more likely to be insightful and imaginative individuals. The results also showed that individuals with extroverted personalities for instance – those who are more comfortable making small talk than introverts – showed a preference for music that was categorised as “uncomplicated, relaxing, and/or acoustic.”
“People do actually define themselves through music and relate to other people through it but we haven’t known in detail how music is connected to identity,” said Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK. “We have always suspected a link between music taste and personality. This is the first time that we’ve been able to look at it in real detail. No one has ever done this on this scale before.”
Scientists say that the reason behind finding correlations in this field has been so difficult in the past was because the study respondents tended to be younger, and therefore were more likely to share a narrow or sheltered taste of music, and because respondents used their own definitions of the genres they enjoy, rather than being specific. Although reaching the results were difficult in the past, in these worldwide and online studies of more than 20,000 respondents, more than half of those surveyed were over 22, and were presented with 25 unfamiliar musical excerpts pre-categorised by musicologists. The surveys differentiated personality types on the “big five” model used by scientists for 50 years: openness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness, which all ultimately lead to the study being so successful. The scientists behind the study also asked the participants about their mental health, general life satisfaction and any “major event” which could potentially have an impact or “disrupt” someone’s life. All of these factors combined were said to affect what kind of music people listen to.
“We are seeking music that reflects who we are, so that includes personality, that includes the way we think, and it may even be the way our brain is wired,” Said Mr. Goldberg, one of the many scientists behind the study.
The team, led by Dr Jason Rentfrow, reader in personality and individual differences at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge found that people with “open” personalities liked ‘sophisticated’ music, which was mostly defined as “inspiring, complex and dynamic”, but were far less impressed with slow, mellow, relaxing music. According to “big five” theory, people who score highly for openness are more likely to like to learn new things and enjoy new experiences. Predictably, agreeable people tended to give all the music clips higher scores, while neurotics marked more harshly. Conscientiousness did not seem to be correlated.
Extroverts, who are talkative and energetic commonly showed a preference for “unpretentious” music that was categorised as uncomplicated, relaxing and acoustic. The study also concluded that once you have evidence of a person’s musical tastes, you can easily predict their personality type, and often make your first opinion on an individual from it.
Dr Rentfrow and his colleagues also added that “An active measure of naturally occurring behaviour, Facebook Likes for musical artists, also predict individual differences in personality.”
Want to find out if your personality matches your music taste? Take the quiz HERE.