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What Your Music Taste Says About You

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What Your Music Taste Says About You

By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline

Which came first—the music or the melancholy? In the movie High Fidelity, the narrator, Rob, thinks about the countless people out there listening to songs of heartbreak and loneliness. “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” he wonders. Given how certain personality types seem drawn to particular kinds of music, it’s a fair question to ask. For example, I’d probably look and feel out of place at an Insane Clown Posse concert, but plop me down in the middle of a Death Cab for Cutie crowd, and I’d blend right in. Our taste in music can influence everything from the way we act to the way we dress—or is it that the music we choose to listen to reflects our personalities?

Most well-rounded people enjoy a variety of music, their MP3 players a highly individualized assortment of multiple genres. But they also have a particular genre or two that speaks the most to them. And those genres, according to some studies, speak the most about them, too.

Different Musical Tastes, Similar Personality Traits
Think about a time when someone insulted your favorite musician or band. Did it feel like a personal attack? Professor Adrian North, of Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University, believes that’s because we use music as an extension of our personalities. We’re drawn to certain genres because we relate to them in some way. Over the past few years, he’s conducted a worldwide study linking musical taste to personality traits. In an online survey, North asked participants to rate more than one hundred genres and then answer personality-based questions. He’s used the thirty-six thousand–plus responses he’s received so far to form a few hypotheses about fans.

North’s findings reveal some truth in stereotypes, such as that dance fans are creative and classical fans are introverts, but they also challenge a few. For instance, rock/heavy metal people are often thought to be rough around the edges, but surveys suggest they’re actually gentler and calmer. There are also quite a few similarities between genres that aren’t thought to mesh well, like rock/heavy metal and reggae. The genre types may vary wildly, but that doesn’t mean their fans can’t find some common ground, at least personality-wise.

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DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

242 comments

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5:30AM PST on Jan 16, 2014

I love the early country, the 70's and 80's music. There are a few genres I like, but those 3 are the most important. Funny thing is that my 28, 30 and 34yr old sons listen to the 70's and 80's music too. Odd isn't it?

1:09PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

I listen to alternative rock, post-hardcore, punk rock, rock and metal. I definitely get on better with people who share my music taste, because music IS my life. All I talk about, think about, or do, is about music.
There are definitely musical taste stereotypes, for example, listeners of my music genre are seen to be depressed, self-harmers, or just angry all the time. But that is absolutely not true.
Anyway, music is the best thing, and the best way to make friends in my opinion.

4:28AM PDT on Jun 28, 2013

Thanks

12:32PM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

nie jestem przekonana

6:36AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

Good article. Thanks for sharing the great info. Thanks!

5:05PM PDT on May 3, 2011

Hmm.

8:19PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

I fit into pretty much all the categories..

10:27PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Interesting!

9:48PM PDT on Mar 19, 2011

I agree Linda Robinson. Looking at the college student results, which seems like a rather limited study, I actually fit into two catagories, and one of my favorite musics is not even listed, and I am 67 and female. I still have a lot of ?s

10:03AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

Eh. My favourite genre of music is heavy metal, and while I have some of those traits, the entire trait-set from "Reflexive and Complex" describes me perfectly. Then again, I love almost any music, so maybe that's why.

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