| How Are Music Preferences Related to Personality?
Imagine that you have a friend who is highly extraverted and imaginative. Would these personality characteristics be related to your friend's music preferences?
In two of their studies, Rentfrow and Gosling (2003) investigated relations between music preferences and personality. There were four categories of music preferences. These were labeled Intense and Rebellious (e.g., rock), Reflective and Complex (e.g., jazz), Upbeat and Conventional (e.g., country), and Energetic and Rhythmic (e.g., electronica/dance). Five of the personality dimensions included in their studies were extraversion (e.g., how sociable you are), conscientiousness, openness to experience (e.g., how imaginative you are), agreeableness (e.g., how cooperative you are), and emotional stability. (1)
In both studies, a greater preference for Reflective and Complex music was associated with greater openness to experience. Moreover, in both studies, a greater preference for Intense and Rebellious music and was associated with greater openness to experience. Also, in both studies, a greater preference for Upbeat and Conventional music was associated with greater extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. In contrast, in both studies, a greater preference for Upbeat and Conventional music was associated with less openness to experience. In both studies, a greater preference for Energetic and Rhythmic music was associated with greater extraversion and agreeableness. (2) These findings suggest that we may be able to predict a person's personality from their music preferences. It is possible that a person's personality may determine what music he or she listens to. For example, a highly extraverted person may choose to listen to music that is energetic. Moreover, a person who is high in openness to experience may choose to listen to music that is complex. However, because these findings are correlational, we cannot make causal conclusions.
1. See their article for information about other measures in the studies.
2. These are only some of the significant correlations found between music preferences and personality. See their article for information on other findings.
Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2003). The do, re, mi's of everyday life:
The structure and personality correlates of music preferences. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 1236-1256.