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The Student News Site of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School

The Voice

Concord-Carlisle High School's Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School

The Voice

Concord-Carlisle High School's Student Newspaper

What Does the Music You Listen To Say About You?

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Note: This article has an interactive!! Scroll down to the bottom of the article to check out what some studies indicate about the type of person you are based on what music you enjoy listening to!

*Please Note: This article was originally published on Craft. We will link the original article here to play the interactive, hopefully it will still work by the time you are reading this.*

Can you recall the last time a song was stuck in your head? Was it an upbeat, energetic song? The melody line of an orchestration? Or a slow, melancholy hum? Maybe it wasn’t even a song that’s your jam. Maybe, instead of making you feel happy and at ease, you wanted to rip the speakers out of whatever device you heard the song on.

For many of us, music is an integral part of our lives. Pop songs on the radio or a phone might make sitting in hours of traffic more bearable. Background music, whether simple instrumental pieces or trending tunes, might accompany us while we do homework or walk through the hallways of our school. Many people make their own music through playing an instrument or even composing their own songs. Music is a universally-understood and celebrated language, with different genres like dialects from which each person can choose what speaks to them (literally and figuratively). But one day, I came across an article urging readers to be more aware of the lyrics of the songs we listen to. Another source cited that your favorite song is your favorite because it’s associated with an important memory. These tidbits sparked my curiosity about the true impact music has on each individual. I wondered, how exactly do the songs that we listen to on repeat every day affect and define us?

A quick browse on the Internet revealed that numerous studies link music choice—particularly one’s preferred genre of music—to personality characteristics. Very Well Mind summarized multiple pieces of research, including a study by researchers at Heriot-Watt University that linked music genre preferences to characteristics like creativity, self-esteem, open-mindedness, and extraversion or introversion. That particular study linked fans of pop, rap and hip hop, classical, jazz, blues, and soul music to high levels of self-esteem. Some results seemed contrary to popular belief or stereotype, including that those who listened to rock and heavy metal music were very gentle, and that people who enjoyed country music were often very emotionally stable despite country music often being about heartbreak.

Another study mentioned by Very Well Mind and another CNN article noted that systemizers—people who “[interact] based upon preset conceptions of how people think they should respond”—usually prefer complexly-structured, intense and energetic-sounding music. Systemizers also tend to pursue careers in math and science fields. Those who prefer more mellow or emotional music, like indie, country, and folk, are labeled as empathizers. Empathizers respond to the world based on social cues (using empathy, although that is definitely not to say that systemizers lack empathy), and were more likely to seek jobs involving creativity and/or interaction with other people.

There are numerous other studies with intriguing conclusions about music and personality. 16 Personalities, one of the most popular personality tests on the internet, even published an article on personality types versus music genres. You can use the interactive at the bottom of this article to explore what different studies say about you based on the genre of music that you prefer.

That said, Very Well Mind also cautions that even though most studies consistently showed a relationship between musical tastes and personality traits, “not all the research agrees” in the specific traits determined by each genre or quality of music. A 2017 meta analysis cited in the Very Well Mind article even argued that there was a very insignificant, if not nonexistent, link between personality and music preferences. Numerous other studies also claim that personality is not the only factor influencing musical tastes. Considering the intricacy of the brain and its variations in behavior based on age, emotion, and time; each individual’s unique environment, family, and cultural background; and the ever-evolving trends of society as a whole, it’s clear that musical preferences are influenced by a myriad of controllable and uncontrollable factors. So it’s best not to take the conclusions of a singular study too seriously.

Regardless of how your music playlists may indicate certain character traits, the evident complexity of the connection is only another testament to music’s amazing ability to unite us and fascinate us with a curiosity for how the world works.

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Felicity Zhang, Junior Co-Editor-In-Chief
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