Finding Truth in Fan Stereotypes
Peter Rentfrow, an assistant professor at the University of Cambridge, also thinks that personality has much to do with music preferences. In a 2003 study called “The Do Re Mi’s of Everyday Life: The Structure and Personality Correlates of Music Preferences,” he and Sam Gosling, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, came up with four categories for music: Reflexive and Complex (blues/classical/folk/jazz), Energetic and Rhythmic (hip hop/dance), Upbeat and Conventional (religious/country/pop), and Intense and Rebellious (heavy metal/rock/alternative rock). They found that those who fell into one group over another had a few common characteristics.
• Energetic and Rhythmic: confident, liberal-minded, gregarious, athletic, feels attractive
• Upbeat and Conventional: trusting, hardworking, feels attractive, helpful, politically conservative
• Reflexive and Complex: open-minded, politically liberal, creative, intelligent, tolerant, enjoys aesthetic experiences
• Intense and Rebellious: athletic, energetic, adventurous, intelligent, inquisitive
Rentfrow and Gosling have conducted a number of joint studies concerning music and personality. In 2007, they tested whether stereotypes about music genres and fans have any truth to them, the results of which were published in the journal Psychology of Music. First, they asked seventy-four people a series of personality-related questions and afterward told them to list their ten favorite songs. (Volunteers also had a week to change their choices.) Seventy-four CDs of the participants’ top-ten songs were made and distributed to eight people, who were then asked to guess the nature of the volunteers based on their song selections.
Interestingly, the eight observers accurately predicted congeniality, forgiveness, openness to experience, creativity, and emotional balance. They did better than respondents in previous studies in which people used pictures and videos as personality indicators.