Home > Music, Science > What does your music say about you?

What does your music say about you?

This is fascinating. Your musical preferences reflect your personality to a significant degree. Perhaps not the most surprising result, but interesting nonetheless.

The STOMP results were fed into a factor analysis, which yielded four factors, or dimensions, of musical preferences. Rentfrow and Gosling labeled these dimensions “Reflective and Complex,” which included the genres blues, jazz, classical, and folk; “Intense and Rebellious,” which included rock, alternative, and heavy metal; “Upbeat and Conventional,” including country, sound tracks, religious, and pop; and “Energetic and Rhythmic,” including rap and hip/hop, soul and funk, as well as electronica and dance. The correlations between these factors from the first testing and the retesting were high (between .77 and .82), indicating that STOMP and its resulting factors were reliable. Subsequent testing with more diverse samples (the original sample was comprised entirely of university undergrads) indicated that the factors were generalizable as well.

  • Reflective and Complex: positively correlated with openness to experience, “self-perceived intelligence,” verbal ability, emotional stability, and political liberalism. Negatively correlated with “social dominance orientation,” political conservatism, wealth, and athleticism.
  • Intense and Rebellious: positively correlated with openness to experience, extroversion, athleticism, “self-perceived intelligence,””social dominance orientation,” and verbal ability.
  • Upbeat and Conventional: positively correlated with extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, political conservatism, physical attractiveness (self-perceived), wealth, and athleticism. Negatively correlated with emotional stability, openness to experience, “social dominance orientation,” depression, political liberalism, intelligence, and verbal ability.
  • Energetic and Rhythmic: Positively correlated with extraversion, agreeableness, political liberalism, physical attractiveness, and athleticism. Negatively correlated with “social dominance orientation” and political conservatism.

You have to guess genres like rock and heavy metal are associated with rebellion and intensity, but I know I’m not like that. I’m one of the most laid back people you’ll ever meet. Then again, I do listen to a lot of post-rock, which I suppose goes into the reflective and complex category. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly complex, either, though.

Interesting stuff, in any case.

Categories: Music, Science
  1. March 19, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    The “rock and heavy metal” that you and I listen to by and large would fall under the relective/complex label, rather than the intense/rebellious one. The song structures have much more in common with classical than those of Nirvana or Linkin Park, for instance.

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