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
In two of their studies, Rentfrow and Gosling (2003) investigated relations
between music preferences and personality. There were four categories of
music preferences. These can be viewed as four types of music. 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.
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 the type of 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.