What Does Research Say About How Your Music Taste and Personality Relate?

Believe it or not, the two are related!

If you picture a rock concert, you probably have a distinct picture in your head as to what the person performing looks like, and even the people in the audience. The same goes for any genre of music. Notice how none of them seem to overlap?

Similarly, have you ever noticed how you and your close friends usually enjoy the same types of music? Maybe you have an album or artist that you all really enjoy listening to. Research shows that this is not a coincidence, that your music taste is connected to your personality.

Understand the relationship between your music taste and personality by diving into:

  • How Are Music Taste and Personality Connected?
  • What Does Your Favorite Music Genre Say About You?
Friends hang out listening to the radio, showing how personality and music taste are connected.
You and your friends most likely get along so well because you have similar music tastes. How Are Music Taste and Personality Connected?

Research shows that your music taste reveals different elements of your personality.

Every type of music is full of emotion and important messages, whether you realize it or not. When listening to music, you evaluate whether or not you like the song itself - the beat, the rhythm, the voice of the singer. You also pay attention to the words, if the song has words. If you can connect with the lyrics, chances are you will enjoy the song. Research also shows that your musical preferences are linked to different cognitive styles. Particularly in terms of how your brain processes information, regarding differences between empathetic reactions and clear, systemized reactions.

Rock and roll artists perform.
If you really enjoy listening to rock music, you are likely to be introverted.

What Does Your Favorite Music Genre Say About You?

This is not a definitive list, nor a comprehensive list for everyone that listens to a specific genre, but based on music research.

Music research has shown that every genre of music has a different set of characteristics associated with it. While this research does not necessarily predict your personality, it shows what personality traits are drawn to different types of music. See if the descriptions for your favorite genre of music match up with your personality!

Pop Music and Top 40s: For those that enjoy pop music and top 40s hit, research shows that they tend to be extroverted. However, research also shows that listening to pop music is an indicator of being more traditional and conventional. This can lead to being less creative than others, as well as having feelings of uneasiness.

Rap and Hip Hop: If rap and hip hop are your go to music choices, it is likely that you are also extroverted, which makes sense given rap and hip hops similarities to pop music. Rap and hip hop listeners are different from pop listeners in that they tend to possess high self esteem. There is also no correlation between rap and hip hop listeners and having aggressive or violent personalities.

Rock and Roll: Those that lean in favor of rock and roll, actually exhibit a lot of behaviors that are opposite to the music that they enjoy. Rather than being loud and boisterous like rock and roll songs, listeners tend to be introverted and quiet. Unlike rock and roll’s strong and confident sound, rock and roll listeners tend to have low self esteem. Similar to rap and hip hop listeners, rock and roll listeners also do not have aggressive or violent personalities, despite stereotypes.

Classical Music: Classical music listeners tend to take after the quiet and controlled nature of classical music. Those that prefer classical music tend to be introverted, but also have a positive outlook on life with high self esteem and a good sense of self. Classical music listeners are also identified as being more creative than others.

The stereotype that classical music listeners are smarter than those that don’t listen actually has some validity. Research has shown that classical music listeners perform better on standardized tests to a noticeable degree. While intelligence is not necessarily a personality trait, it does have an impact on how an individual moves about the world.

Country Music: Country music listeners are another group that are similar to the stereotypes surrounding them. They tend to be outgoing, conventional, and empathetic. Given the storytelling nature of many country music songs, it makes sense as to why country music listeners would be empathetic. They are also likely to hold conservative political views and are not open to new experiences. Though, many country music listeners diverge from the content of the songs, as they primarily center on heartbreak. Country music listeners tend to be emotionally stable.

Dance Music: While dance music listeners are outgoing, unlike country music listeners, dance music listeners tend to be open to new experiences. Along with their outgoing nature and the energy from dance music, listeners tend to be assertive and do not consider gentleness.

Alternative and Indie: While the alternative and indie genres differ greatly from the other genres in terms of sound, the personality qualities associated with these genres are actually quite similar. Listeners tend to be introverted, passive, and lack self-esteem. Alternative and indie music listeners tend to mimic the slow and mellow sounds of these genres, as they tend to go about life in a lackadaisical manner. However, alternative and indie listeners tend to be more creative and intellectual than others.

Woman engages with classical music by playing violin.
Classical music listeners are typically associated with having strong self-confidence.

Just like music genres, personalities have a lot of subcategories that may not have been unpacked in this article. With that said, music taste still gives an indication of major personality factors. Do you feel like your personality matches the type of music you listen to?

Dean Pinnell
Dean Pinnell is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Communication and Fiction Writing.
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