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The psychology of music preference refers to the psychological factors behind peoples' different music preferences. Most people hear some form of music every day, and music affects people in many ways from emotion regulation to cognitive development, along with providing a means for self-expression. Music training has been shown to help improve intellectual development and ability, though no connection has been found as to how it affects emotion regulation. Numerous studies have been conducted to show that individual personality can have an effect on music preference, mostly using the Big Five personality traits. These studies are not limited to Western or American culture, as they have been conducted with significant results in countries all over the world, including Japan, Germany, and Spain.
Personality and music preference[edit | edit source]
Many research studies have used the Big Five personality traits as their measures for personality, which breaks personality down into five categories: openness to experience, agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. In general, the plasticity traits (openness to experience and extraversion) affect music preference more than the stability traits (agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness), but each trait, except for conscientiousness (which has never shown any significant predictability effects), is still worth discussing. The personality traits have also been shown to correlate significantly with the emotional effect music has on people. Individual personality differences can help predict the emotional intensity and valence derived from music.
Openness to experience[edit | edit source]
Of all the traits, openness to experience has been shown to have the a great effect upon genre preference. In general, those rated high in openness to experience prefer more complex and novel music like classical, jazz, and eclecticism. One of the facets of openness to experience is aesthetic appreciation, which is why researchers generally explain the high positive correlation between openness and liking complex music. People rating higher in openness also tend to rate higher in self-assessed intelligence. This suggests that high openness leads to the idea of being smarter, which could also explain why this group tends to like more complex, classical music and jazz.
One study looking at how personality traits affect music-induced emotion found that of all the traits, openness to experience was the best predictor of higher emotionally intense reactions to sad and slow music. The most common feelings described from sad music were nostalgia, peacefulness, and wonder, and openness to experience correlated positively with all these feelings. However, this is only true up to a certain point, as another study looked at music's ability to produce "chills" in the listeners. Although this study found that openness was the best predictor of genre preference, there is no way to use openness to experience to predict who gets chills from music. Instead, the only measure for that was frequency of listening to music and the self-rated value of the importance of music in one's life. Another study examined how openness to experience and frequency of listening are related and how they affect music preference. While listening to classical music excerpts, those rated high in openness tended to decrease in liking music faster during repeated listenings, as opposed to those scoring low in openness, who tended to like music more with repeated plays. This suggests novelty in music is an important quality for people high in openness to experience.
One study had people take a personality test before and after listening to classical music with and without written lyrics in front of them. Both the music with and without lyrics showed some effect at actually changing people's self-rated personality traits, most significantly in terms of openness to experience, which showed some significant increase. Instead of personality affecting music preference, here classical music altered the assessment of their own personalities and make people assess themselves as more open.
Extraversion[edit | edit source]
Extraversion is another good predictor of music genre preference and music use. People rating high in extraversion tend to like social, happy music like pop, hip hop/rap, and electronic music. Additionally, extraverts tend to listen to music more and have background music present in their lives more often. One study compared introverts and extroverts to see who would be more easily distracted by background music with and without lyrics. It was assumed that since extroverts listen to background music more they would be able to tune it out better, but that was proved untrue. No matter how much music people listen to they are still equally affected and distracted by music with lyrics.
Another study examined music teachers and music therapists, assuming that people who like and study music would be more extroverted. The results showed that music teachers were definitely higher in extraversion than the general public. Music therapists were also higher on extraversion than introversion, though they scored significantly lower than the teachers. Differences can probably be attributed to teaching being a profession more dependent on extraversion.
Agreeableness[edit | edit source]
Though having little effect on genre preference, agreeableness is a good predictor of the emotional intensity experienced from all types of music, both positive and negative. Those scoring high in agreeableness tend to have more intense emotional reactions to all types of music.
Neuroticism[edit | edit source]
Neuroticism is not a great predictor for genre preference, but it does have some value in predicting how people use music. Those rated high in neuroticism tend to use music more for emotion regulation, and in a possibly related result, they tend to have more intense emotional reactions to music classified as sad.
Other factors involved with music preference[edit | edit source]
Gender is another factor that affects music preference. Men tend to use music for more cognitive reasons, while women tend to use music for more emotional reasons. Also, men tend to exclude musical genres from one another more than women do.
Active mood is another factor that affects music preference. Generally whether people are in a good or bad mood when they hear music affects how they feel about the type of music and also their emotional response. On that line of thinking, aggression has been shown to improve creativity and emotional intensity derived from music. People with aggressive disorders find music to be a powerful emotional outlet. Additionally, the value people put on music and frequency of listening affects their reactions to it. If people listen to a certain type of music and add emotional experience to songs or a genre in general, this increases the likelihood of enjoying the music and being emotionally affected by it. This helps explain why many people might have strong reactions to music their parents listened to frequently while they were kids.
Finally, age is a strong factor in determining music preference. Younger people tend to place much more significance on music and also use background music more. Nostalgia is the most important feeling that affects music preference here. Music producing nostalgia effects has been shown to have large predictive effects on people of all ages.
References[edit | edit source]
- Rentfrow, Peter J. (May 2012). The role of music in everyday life: Current directions in the social psychology of music. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 6 (5): 402–416.
- Schellenberg, Glen E., Mankarious, Monika (October 2012). Music training and emotion comprehension in childhood. Emotion 12 (5): 887–891.
- Brown, R.A. (01). Music preferences and personality among Japanese university students. International Journal of Psychology 47 (4): 259–268.
- Langmeyer, Alexandra, Guglhör-Rudan, Angelika & Tarnai, Christian (October 2012). What do music preferences reveal about personality: a cross-cultural replication using self-ratings and ratings of music samples. Journal of Individual Differences 33 (2): 119–130.
- Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas, Gomà-i-Freixanet, Montserrat, Furnham, Adrian & Muro, Anna (August 2009). Personality, self-estimated intelligence, and uses of music: A Spanish replication and extension using structural equation modeling. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 3 (3): 149–155.
- Miranda, Dave, Morizot, Julien & Gaudreau, Patrick (27). Personality Metatraits and Music Preferences in Adolescence: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth 15 (4): 289–301.
- Vuoskoski, Jonna K., Eerola, Tuomas (13). Measuring music-induced emotion: A comparison of emotion models, personality biases, and intensity of experiences. Musicae Scientiae 15 (2): 159–173.
- Nusbaum, E. C., Silvia, P. J. (7 October 2010). Shivers and Timbres: Personality and the Experience of Chills From Music. Social Psychological and Personality Science 2 (2): 199–204.
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- Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas, Fagan, Patrick & Furnham, Adrian (November 2010). Personality and uses of music as predictors of preferences for music consensually classified as happy, sad, complex, and social. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 4 (4): 205–213.
- Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas, Swami, Viren & Cermakova, Blanka (22). Individual differences in music consumption are predicted by uses of music and age rather than emotional intelligence, neuroticism, extraversion or openness. Psychology of Music 40 (3): 285–300.
- Vuoskoski, Jonna K., Thompson, William F., McIlwain, Doris, Eerola, Tuomas (February 2012). Who enjoys listening to sad music and why?. Music Perception 29 (3): 311–317.
- Nusbaum, Emily C., Silvia, Paul J. (7). Shivers and Timbres: Personality and the Experience of Chills From Music. Social Psychological and Personality Science 2 (2): 199–204.
- Hunter, Patrick G, Schellenberg, Glen E. (20). Interactive effects of personality and frequency of exposure on liking for music. Personality and Individual Differences 50 (2): 175–179.
- Djikic, Maja (August 2011). The effect of music and lyrics on personality. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 5 (3): 237–240.
- Avila, Christina, Furnham, Adrian & McClelland, Alastair (9). The influence of distracting familiar vocal music on cognitive performance of introverts and extraverts. Psychology of Music 40 (1): 84–93.
- Steele, Anita Louise, Young, Sylvester (Spring). A descriptive study of Myers-Briggs personality types of professional music educators and music therapists with comparisons to undergraduate majors. Journal of Music Therapy 48 (1): 55–73.
- Ladinig, Olivia, Schellenberg, Glenn E. (May 2012). Liking unfamiliar music: Effects of felt emotion and individual differences. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 6 (2): 146–154.
- Pool, Jonathan, Odell-Miller, Helen (2011). Aggression in music therapy and its role in creativity with reference to personality disorder. The Arts in Psychotherapy 38 (3): 169–177.
- Barret, Frederick S., Grimm, Kevin J., Robins, Richard W.,Wildschut, Tim, Constantine, Sedikides, Janata, Petr (June 2010). Music-evoked nostalgia: Affect, memory, and personality. Emotion 10 (3): 390–403.
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