Can your choice in music say something about you?

Can your choice in music say something about you?

Drew Hanson, Lead Editor

One of the first ice breaker questions available at our disposal is the ever so common “what kind of music are you into?” This question can serve as a basis for finding a similarity with someone you just met, but can it do more? Can the music we listen to actually reveal certain personality traits about ourselves? 

The answer is complicated, but researchers at Heriot-Watt University think that there may be a link between certain music tastes and personality traits such as extroversion or introversion, work ethic, creativity, and tendency to be either assertive or passive.  

Their large scale study was conducted over thirty six thousand people and their responses to one hundred and four different styles of music. People who expressed interest in pop and music tended to be extroverted and hardworking, but lacked creativity compared to other genres. Country music listeners also appeared to follow the hardworking and outgoing trends, while those who prefer indie music tended to be introverted and passive, but very creative. This trend persisted with people who prefer classical music. 

This was all very interesting to me, and I soon became curious if the study was replicable at Southeast of Saline. I surveyed fifty students on their preferred genre out of pop/rap, country, indie, and classical. They were then asked a series of personality questions, including whether they perceived themselves as introverted or extroverted, more hardworking or creative, and more gentle or assertive. 

Out of the fifty students, 19 choose pop/rap, 17 choose country, 11 choose indie, and 3 choose classical music. I also asked students if they thought their music taste could say something about their personality, and the results were mixed. 

“No, because the music you listen to can change overtime. I think that a person’s conditions or home environment affects their personality the most,” commented one student. 

Meaghan Roths, a junior, said she could see links between music taste and personality. 

“I think so. If someone is more of a gentle person then they normally aren’t going to listen to hard rock or metal and vice versa. There are always people though you go against the normal stereotypes and you are surprised by their taste in music because their personality doesn’t show it.”

Brie Fowler, a senior noted that she could see links in her teachers music tastes and their personality. 

“I think there is a link between types of music people enjoy and their personality traits because they find something that resonates with them from certain types of music. For example people who choose to leisurely listen to Jazz are most likely open minded people who have a creative view on the world (Mr. Emme). Personality definitely determines how people interpret music and has an influence on what sort of music people identify with.”

Despite mixed views from students, the results from the poll showed clear trends. Out of the 19 students that selected pop/rap as their preferred genre, 14 of them said that they were extroverts, and 13 said that they thought of themselves as more hardworking than the average person. Country music listeners were overwhelmingly extraverted and hardworking, with 15 out of the 17 respondents recording those traits, respectively. 11 out of 17 country listeners also described themselves as more confrontational opposed to passive, the only group to have a majority in that category.

Contrary to pop/rap and country, indie and classical music listeners both referred to themselves as more introverted (9 out of 11 indie, 2 out of 3 classical). Both groups also expressed themselves as more creative than the average person, (8 out of 11 indie, 2 out of 3 classical). Finally, they also both reported being passive and non confrontational (10 out of 11 indie, 2 out of 3 classical). This reporting also aligns closely to the findings in the university study. 

Given these results, I think that it’s pretty safe to assume that if you talk to country or pop/rap listeners at SES, you can expect an extroverted, hardworking person who may be more confrontational. However, if you approach a kid that listens to indie or classical music, you could expect to meet someone more introverted, creative, and passive. While the results of the school poll are still far from definitive due to the low sample size, it appears as if there may be a trend in the music taste of students at SES and their self identified personality traits.