What does the music we listen to say about us?

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It is known that only we humans are able to appreciate the value of a beautiful melody. Each of us has a different taste in music. Can it reveal our character traits and show what kind of people we are?

Listened music and character in a study by Cambridge scientists

Researchers from Cambridge have studied the relationship between the music we listen to and our character. Their results are more than interesting. Cambridge University scientists, led by Dr. David Greenberg, conducted a study on a group of 4000 participants recruited through a Facebook application. Their aim was to answer the question: How does our cognitive style, or way of thinking, affect our preference for music selection?

Background of the Cambridge study

The significance of the study conducted by Dr. Greenberg’s team was the very meticulous preparation of the appropriate method, which worked very well. The activities were carried out in stages:

  • the first consisted in examining 4000 participants of the project for predispositions connected with their character,
  • then two categories of people were distinguished: those who value empathy (reacting to the thoughts and feelings of others) and systemization (willingness to understand the rules and principles),
  • after the initial research, the participants were asked to listen to 50 songs from 26 genres and subgenres of music,
  • respondents identified their favorite songs
The bright side – What your favorite music genre says about you

Dr. Greenberg’s team’s findings

A team of researchers from Cambridge evaluated the results of the study. In light of the analyses, they found that both groups of people, empathic and systemic, had similar preferences related to their choice of music genres. Empathic individuals leaned towards genres such as soft rock, sung poetry, country, electronic music, folk or pop. Few individuals presented an inclination to appreciate heavy and distinctive sounds. Punk or heavy metal, however, were not uncommonly among the genres preferred by those who place a premium on systemicity

Who likes energetic music more?

In the course of the research, it also turned out that people who display a systemic cognitive approach need excitement, strong emotions, and a high dose of energy in the music they listen to. Ideally, the message should also be unambiguously positive. Respondents with a preference for empathy preferred songs that were not too energetic, but lyrical, warm, reflective, and often sad.

Music preferences and attitudes towards other people

It turns out that it is not only in Cambridge that research has been conducted into the correlation between musical taste and attitudes towards people and the outside world. It was also done by an Australian team of researchers from Curtin University working under the leadership of Dr Adrian North. In this case, it was an attempt to infer the lifestyle of the subjects based on their musical preferences. Noteworthy is the fact that over 36.5 thousand people from 60 countries were surveyed, who could indicate as many as 104 musical genres.

Amateurs of which genres establish relationships most efficiently?

The results of the Australian team’s study are perhaps even more specific than those of the Cambridge study. The characteristics that describe fans of particular music genres can be used in this case. Thus, fans of rap or hip-hop are characterized by sociability and high self-esteem. Unfortunately, their attitude is characterized by the fact that they are not very friendly to those around them. In contrast, Indie Rock lovers do not have high self-esteem and are creative but also lazy and stubborn. In contrast, the attitude towards others that characterizes classical music followers is quite interesting. High self-esteem corresponds with introversion and a friendly attitude towards the environment

Photo: Sound On/Pexels

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