What Does Your Taste in Music Reveal About Your Personality? (2022)

Music plays an important role in the lives of people all over the world, which is why many wonder what individual factors might influence musical preferences. Could the contents of your playlist, for example, reveal something about your personality?

People listen to music as a way to set the mood, to motivate a workout, or even to gain inspiration. How much are those choices influenced by underlying personality traits?

Personality Traits Linked to Musical Styles

One large-scale study conducted by researchers at Heriot-Watt University looked at more than 36,000 participants from all over the world. Participants were asked to rate more than 104 different musical styles in addition to offering information about aspects of their personalities.

According to the researcher, Adrian North, the reason people sometimes feel defensive about their taste in music might be related to how much it relates to attitudes and personality.

North suggests that people do define themselves through music and use it as a means to relate to other people. His research points to the connection that people often make between who they are as an individual and their musical tastes.

Keep in mind that these are the results published in only one study rather than being replicated and validated by a variety of researchers and different study designs. The following are some of the personality traitsthe study linked to certain musical styles.

Pop Music

Fans of the top 40 pop hits tend to be extroverted, honest, and conventional. While pop music lovers are hardworking and have high self-esteem, researchers suggestthat they tend to be less creative and more uneasy.

Rap and Hip/Hop Music

In spite of the stereotype that rap lovers are more aggressive or violent, researchers have actually found no such link. Rap fans do tend to have high self-esteem and are usually outgoing.

Country Music

Country music fans are typically hardworking, conventional, and outgoing. While country songs are often centered on heartbreak, people who gravitate towards this genre tend to be very emotionally stable. They also tend to be more conservative and rank lower on the trait of openness to experience.

Rock/Heavy Metal Music

Despite the sometimes aggressive image that rock and heavy metal music project, researchers found that fans of this style of music are usually quite gentle. They tend to be creative, but are often introverted and may suffer from low self-esteem.

Indie Music

Fans of the indie genre are typically introverted, intellectual, and creative. According to researchers, they also tend to be less hardworking and less gentle. Passivity, anxiousness, and low self-esteem are other common personality characteristics.

Dance Music

According to researchers, people who prefer dance music are usually outgoing and assertive. They also tend to rank high on the trait of openness to experience, one of the five major personality traits. People who prefer fast-paced electronic music also tend to rank low on gentleness.

Classical Music

Classical music lovers are typically more introvertedbut are also at ease with themselves and the world around them. They are creative and have a good sense of self-esteem.

(Video) What Does Your Music Taste REALLY Say About Your Personality?

Jazz, Blues, and Soul Music

People who enjoy jazz, blues, or soul music were found to be more extroverted with high self-esteem. They also tend to be very creative, intelligent, and at ease.

What the Research Says

A number of studies have found that musical tastes can actually be good predictors of personality traits, yet not all the research agrees.

Predictions of Personality Traits

Research conducted by psychologists Jason Rentfrow and Sam Gosling suggested that knowing the type of music you listen to can actually lead to surprisingly accurate predictions about your personality.

Researchers found that people could make accurate judgments about an individual's levels of extraversion, creativity, and open-mindedness after listening to 10 of their favorite songs.

Extroverts tend to seek out songs with heavy bass lineswhile those who enjoy more complex styles such as jazz and classical music tend to be more creative and have higher IQ-scores. Rentfrow and Gosling have extended their studies, looking at the different facets of music that can be linked to preferences.

Music and Cognitive Styles

Another study found that the types of music you enjoy may be connected to the ways your brain processes information. Researchers suggest that there are two ways of responding to the world: empathizing involves being able to respond to the world based on social cues, while systemizing involves interacting based upon preset conceptions of how people think they should respond.

In the study, researchers found that people who were empathizers were also more likely to enjoy mellow but emotionally-rich contemporary music, which ranged from indie-rock to country to folk.The systemizers, however, were more likely to prefer complex, intense, energetic music that was upbeat and positive.

The systemizers, who researchers suggest tend to follow career paths in math and science, are more drawn to the structural complexity of the music, often liking classical, jazz, and world music.

Empathizers, who are often drawn more to creative careers or those that involve working with people, are more likely to prefer softer music that evokes strong emotional responses.

Not all research supports the idea that personality traits play a role in determining musical preferences, however. One 2017 meta-analysis found that personality traits played very little of a role in accounting for these individual differences.

Other Factors Also Play a Role

Experts note that personality traits alone do not account for musical preferences. While music is often an important way to express self-identity, research has shown that people listen to music for a variety of purposes.

(Video) Your Personality Shapes Your Musical Tastes | HowStuffWorks NOW

One study suggested that some of the key psychological functions that music serves include improving performance, stimulating curiosity and imagination, and amplifying certain moods or emotions. Other factors including gender, age, social class, and cultural background also play important roles in musical taste.

A Word From Verywell

The next time you are putting together a playlist to listen to during your commute or workout, consider how your personality might be reflected in your song choices. You might also consider listening to styles of music that you don't normally prefer; research suggests that doing this may actually have a lasting impact on the brain.

The Psychological Benefits of Music

Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

(Video) What Your Musical Taste Says About You

What Does Your Taste in Music Reveal About Your Personality? (1)

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

FAQs

What does your taste in music say about your personality? ›

Extroverts tend to seek out songs with heavy bass lines while those who enjoy more complex styles such as jazz and classical music tend to be more creative and have higher IQ-scores. Rentfrow and Gosling have extended their studies, looking at the different facets of music that can be linked to preferences.

Does music reveal personality? ›

Research has shown correlations between an individual's music preference and their personality traits. New data shows that these relationships exist across cultures. In other words, an introvert in Europe and an introvert in Asia are likely to enjoy similar music.

Does the music reflect your personality Why? ›

Music is such a core part of culture and everyday experience that it has long been believed to be connected to one's personality. Music, more than any other media, has strong ties to our emotions: music communicates emotion, stirs memory, affects mood, and spurs creativity.

How does music define you? ›

It can make us think, feel and act. It can be a deeply meaningful and profound experience that leaves us pondering life's greater mysteries. And sometimes it's just entertainment, in the way a sitcom is entertainment, or a video game, or anything else you enjoy doing purely for fun, like reading a spy novel.

How does music make you feel? ›

Our favorite melodies release dopamine, known as the feel-good hormone, which activates our brain's pleasure and reward system. Music can have a positive, immediate impact on our mental state; fast tempos can psychologically and physiologically arouse us, helping energize us for the day.

What does it mean to taste music? ›

What is musical taste? It is interesting that the term musical taste is tied to the term aesthetics. Musical taste is often paired together with musical preferences. Most people understand musical taste as one's preferences in music: particular genres, styles, music bands.

What is good music taste? ›

According to several sources, when a person has good taste in music it means that they are hip. It also means that they posses a wide range in knowledge as far as it pertains to music. In addition, the person also has the ability to identify what the best music is in every category or genre.

How does music affect your mood? ›

Happy, upbeat music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which evokes feelings of joy, whereas calming music relaxes the mind and the body.

Can the music you listen to change your personality? ›

Power over feelings

But, according to research, even how we perceive the world around us can be influenced by music. Researchers at the University of Groningen showed in an experiment that listening to sad or happy music can not only put people in a different mood, but also change what people notice.

Why do people have different taste in music? ›

Our musical tastes are shaped by a number of external factors — exposure, peer and family influence, the activities we listen to music during — as well as internal preferences we have for rhythm, harmony, timbres, structure or lyrics.

How important is music taste in a relationship? ›

Greenberg's take on music being a deal breaker? While it's not a cut-and-dry deal breaker like smoking or drinking, it certainly strengthens a relationship when you share the same tastes. “If you find someone who likes the same style of music as you, then you'll likely get along with them.”

What is music to your life? ›

Music is an important part of our life as it is a way of expressing our feelings as well as emotions. Some people consider music as a way to escape from the pain of life. It gives you relief and allows you to reduce the stress.

Why music is important in our life? ›

Music can raise someone's mood, get them excited, or make them calm and relaxed. Music also - and this is important - allows us to feel nearly or possibly all emotions that we experience in our lives. The possibilities are endless.

Why do you love music so much? ›

When we listen to pleasurable music, the “pleasure chemical” dopamine is released in the striatum, a key part of the brain's reward system. Importantly, music activates the striatum just like other rewarding stimuli, such as food and sex.

How can you express your feelings through music? ›

Love – Music can be used to express love and as a sign of affection. Violent/Hatred – Music can be used in war or violence and to promote anger. Energetic – Rhythms in music can make us move faster and aid physical exercise. Happy or Sad – Music can lift our mood, make us smile or laugh.

What makes music happy? ›

While there are many ways to weave emotion into music, two of the simplest are tempo and key. Happy tunes mostly have fast tempos and major keys. Sad songs often have slow tempos and minor keys.

Does music taste reflect intelligence? ›

A preference for instrumental music indicates higher intelligence, research finds. People who like ambient music, smooth jazz, film soundtracks, classical music and similar genres without vocals tend to have higher IQs.

Does the type of music you listen to affect your mood? ›

All of this is, of course, backed by research that shows that music can affect our emotions in different ways. Happy, upbeat music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which evokes feelings of joy, whereas calming music relaxes the mind and the body.

What do you call a person who listens to all types of music? ›

eclectic: (adjective) eclectic 1.deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. " her musical tastes are eclectic" eclectic: (noun) A person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. (

Why do people like Heavymetals? ›

Metal's energy and adrenaline rush are the main reasons why people like it. Broadly speaking, the sound of metal is characterized by thundering guitars and pummeling rhythms. While the energy and speed of metal might not be everyone's cup of tea, for metalheads, it can be a form of positive sensory overload.

What music do smart people like? ›

Scientific research tells us that learning to play an instrument is good for your brain, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the smartest among us apparently prefer to listen to instrumental music.

What music do introverts like? ›

Most often, introverted individuals favor sophisticated music and/or meaningful lyrics. Inward-directed “introverts” tend to be in touch with their creative side and at ease with their personalities. As a result, it's very easy to see why most classical music fans might be introverts.

What is good music taste? ›

According to several sources, when a person has good taste in music it means that they are hip. It also means that they posses a wide range in knowledge as far as it pertains to music. In addition, the person also has the ability to identify what the best music is in every category or genre.

Why do I feel music so deeply? ›

Especially when it's music we love, the brain releases dopamine while listening. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It also helps us to think and plan, helping us strive, focus, and find things interesting.

How does music affect your behavior? ›

It makes us feel different kinds of emotions, and it makes us feel like we are in a different location or ambiance. Music affects our behavior by triggering behavioral responses in our brain based on musical pleasure, anticipation, emotions, and memories.

How does music influence your life? ›

How does music affect our lives? Music has the ability to deeply affect our mental states and raise our mood. When we need it, music gives us energy and motivation. When we're worried, it can soothe us; when we're weary, it can encourage us; and when we're feeling deflated, it can re-inspire us.

Why do I love music so much? ›

Musical pleasure

The experience of intensely pleasurable music can cause dopamine release in the mesolimbic reward system (Salimpoor et al, 2015). Engaging with music can trigger the same biological and psychological responses associated with other highly fundamental rewards, such as food, sex, or rewards like money.

What is a person who likes music called? ›

melomaniac (plural melomaniacs) One with an abnormal fondness of music; a person who loves music. [

Why do I need music all the time? ›

You rely on music to manage your emotions

It can convey an almost endless range of feeling. It's often used as a coping strategy for anxiety or stress. Many people report improvements in mood and motivation after listening to energizing music. It may even help you express emotions and find deeper insight.

Are people who listen to heavy metal intelligent? ›

Liking heavy metal music is a sign of high intelligence, research suggests. Some people may use heavy metal music as a way of coping with being talented. Being a 'metalhead' is sometimes associated with poor performance and delinquency, but this survey found otherwise.

What kind of person listens to heavy metal? ›

Fans of contemporary heavy metal tend to share a dislike of authority and a bit of a self-esteem problem, one study finds. You can tell a lot about someone from their taste in music. Especially if they have a penchant for contemporary heavy metal.

Does heavy metal help depression? ›

Metal and depression

Depression is a mental health condition that causes low moods and loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. If you love metal, listening to this genre can help lessen negative emotions you may be feeling. It may also help reduce cortisol levels, which can result in less stress.

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