19 January 2013

Your Music and What It Says About Your Personality

And having bought myself a turntable that conveniently connects to a PC by way of a USB connector, I have been spending the last few days gleefully converting my old phonograph records into twenty-first century mp3s. It has not exactly been your proverbial piece of cake; and part of the time I had to spend reading up on graphic equalisers and frequency ranges.

On the other hand, listening to obscure album cuts that I had not heard for more than a decade makes the effort well worth the bother, believe me! Not perfect; and some clicks, pops and hisses are next to impossible to remove. But hey, these were all part and parcel of the turntable culture!

Although I have a reasonably sized collection of folk, country, rock and heavy metal albums, surprisingly I have preferred to convert my younger sister’s collection of instrumental and jazz fusion albums ahead of my own. I send the mp3s after conversion to my sister by e-mail; but I really convert the songs first and foremost for my own listening pleasure.


I tried but could not find a copy of the actual study. My guess is that it was limited to current musical preference and had not taken into account changing musical preferences over time.
The surprise, I guess, is that I could not stand her albums before. Back in the eighties when I built up my album collection, I stayed well clear of anything that did not have reverberating bass or screeching lead guitars.

I guess to a certain extent, everyone’s musical preference is influenced by the environment; and the most immediate one is, of course, the home. However, a recent study headed by Professor Adrian North of the Heriot-Watt University in Scotland seems to indicate that musical preference is also very much a matter of personality.

The study was conducted over the Internet with 36,000 respondents from more than sixty countries answering questions about their musical preferences and certain facets of their personalities. The questions tried to ascertain respondents’ levels of self-esteem, creativity, introversion, gentleness and being at ease.

Because the study was conducted globally, the results transcend national boundaries and cultures. In a sense, it illustrates not only the universality of music itself but also the connection that people make with its diverse types.

In a nutshell, the study revealed these music preference and personality correlations:

MUSIC PREFERENCEPERSONALITY
BluesLow self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
Bollywood MusicCreative and outgoing
Chart PopHigh self-esteem, hardworking, outgoing, gentle, but not creative and at ease
ClassicalHigh self-esteem, creative, introverted and at ease
Country & WesternHardworking and outgoing
DanceCreative and outgoing; but not gentle
IndieLow self-esteem, creative, not hardworking and not gentle
JazzHigh self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease
OperaHigh self-esteem, creative and gentle
RapHigh self-esteem and outgoing
ReggaeHigh self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
Rock/Heavy MetalLow self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, not outgoing, gentle and at ease
SoulHigh self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease

Found yours yet? True or untrue? Bear in mind, however, that studies like this try to establish commonalities mathematically; but the significance of any correlation may vary from one respondent to another.

In my case, my wide range of musical preferences makes it difficult for me to honestly choose just one musical type; and my musical preferences have seemingly changed over time.

The first music that I really became conscious of and started to like was dictated by the radio disc jockeys of my generation. Hence, at one time my preference was what the study calls Chart Pop.

The charts also had a lot of Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Jackson 5 and Aretha Franklin, to name but a few. That made me a Soul fan as well.

Later, I became enamoured with acts like America, the Eagles, Alabama and the Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band, to name a few. That made me a fan of the Country and Western genre as well.

By the eighties, I became a certified fan of melodic heavy metal and have entire collections of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard albums. I can also listen to Led Zepellin, Whitesnake, Guns N Roses, Quiet Riot and many more hard rock acts.

And I still listen to all these different genres depending on the current mood. The fact is, while once I could not make myself listen to classical music and jazz fusion, these days I have a lot of these among my mp3s as well.

If I am being honest, the only genres among those named in the survey results that I do not listen to are Rap and Dance. Bollywood is culturally Indian; so, I do not even consider it an option.

I tried but could not find a copy of the actual study. My guess is that it was limited to current musical preference and had not taken into account changing musical preferences over time.

Still, the survey yielded some interesting results. Who would have thought, for instance, that fans of classical music and heavy metal share certain traits? The result stating that heavy metal fans are ‘gentle’ also contrasts with the stereotype of the tattooed, long-haired and bike-riding hoods in Hollywood movies.

Acknowledgment: Preferred Music Style Is Tied to Personality











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