Pop, Hip-Hop, Classical, Rock, Alternative, Metal, Punk. All genres of music, and everyones taste in them is different. Some people might be drawn towards pop and rock while others stick only to metal. But do these preferences reveal anything about our personality and the way that we behave in our everyday life? This has been a question that is at the heart of many studies, and is something that to this day continues to not be totally understood.
The first study that looked into the link between music preference and personality came in 1953, when researcher Cattell and partner Anderson created the I.P.A.T. personality test ( Cattell) Through this study they created 12 different personality traits that could be deciphered from peoples enjoyment in certain parts of music. Further the idea that music causes personality, a 1999 study showed that people used music as a platform to communicate their social values. (North) However, there are some confounding issues with these studies. They found issues with self esteem playing a large role into how people perceive music relating to themselves. They were also studying limited genres of music, specifically in the Cattell study they were only asking how people felt about certain parts of jazz and classical songs as opposed to whole genres.
Still, these studies point out that there is a potential underlying link between personality and music preference. A comprehensive study conducted by Peter Rentfrow (Rentfrow) at the University of Texas studied undergraduate students and how their music preferences effect their lives. The majority of students put music as the most important cultural impact on their life, something that has been proven to affect your personality. They also said that for themselves and others, music is the most important thing that affects their personality, placed above any other form of media.
This study was conducted of many smaller studies that set apart individual genres of music, had participants tell how they felt about those genres, explain what parts of that music was appealing to them, and finally finding a link between them and personality. Below is the final chart that showed the relation between personality and music types, as was presented in the study.
Ultimately, the study found that there is a link and that it is fairly direct. Individuals who liked upbeat exciting music tended to be more rebellious and risky in their life compared to people who enjoy mellow music. One example given in the article is that students who enjoyed upbeat music found themselves to be more attractive and have a higher self esteem, and were also politically more liberal compared to students with different musical preferences. I would say that this wasn’t different to what I expected, generally people I know who like “faster” music are more into party scenes and as a result see themselves as more popular and likeable.
In conclusion, these studies show that there is a link between music preference and personality, and the link is fairly strong. I think this is largely caused by the fact that music plays such a major role in our lives and anything you spend that much time on is bound to have an impact on you. So think about what types of music you listen to and see if it correlates to what they found in the study, maybe it will tell you more about yourself then you thought possible.