Music Preferences and Personality (02-14-22)

Greenberg and colleagues probed links between personality and preferred music styles and it seems likely that their findings can be applied more generally.  The team report that they “built on theory and research in personality, cultural, and music psychology to map the terrain of preferences for Western music using data from 356,649 people across six continents. . . . the patterns of correlations between personality traits and musical preferences were largely consistent across countries and assessment methods. For example, trait Extraversion was correlated with stronger reactions to Contemporary musical styles (which feature rhythmic, upbeat, and electronic attributes), whereas trait Openness was correlated with stronger reactions to Sophisticated musical styles (which feature complex and cerebral attributes often heard in improvisational and instrumental music).” Conscientiousness was linked to unpretentious music preference, agreeableness was associated with mellow and unpretentious music, and openness was tied to mellow, contemporary, and intense music preference.  There was a strong negative correlation between conscientiousness and intense music. Mellow music is romantic, slow, and quiet; unpretentious music is uncomplicated and relaxing; and intense music is distorted, loud, and aggressive.

D. Greenberg, S. Wride, D. Snowden, D. Spathis, J. Potter and P. Rentfrow.  2022. “Universals and Variations in Musical Preferences:  A Study of Preferential Reactions to Western Music in 53 Countries.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 122, no. 2, pp. 286-309, https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000397