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What Your Music Taste Says About You

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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.

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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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