Music and Personality

Unless you’re one of the 3% of the population who is tone deaf, you’re wired to appreciate music. And the type of music you like can be predicted by your personality, according to John Powell, a musician and scientist who wrote Why you love music From Mozart to Metallica, the emotional impact of beautiful soundPowell says you can get a rough approximation of your personality by grading yourself on:

  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism    
  • Openness     
  • Honesty & Humility

The personality trait scoring can predict which of these types of music you like:

  • Reflective & Complex music: Classical, Jazz, Folk, and Blues
  • Intense & Rebellious music: Rock, Alternative & Heavy Metal
  • Upbeat & Conventional: Pop, Country Western, Soundtracks & Religious
  • Rhythmic: Rap, Soul, Electronic

Of course there are always exceptions, but in general:

  • Reflective and complex music listeners tend to score high on openness. They also tend to be good with words, politically liberal and poor at sports.
  • Fans of intense and rebellious music also score high on openness and are skilled with words, but are usually good at sports.
  • Upbeat and conventional music lovers, in general, score high on extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, are good at sports and are politically conservative.

Musical taste tends to get locked in around the ages of 15 to 25, which explains why your mom uses "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” as her alarm clock. Still, later in life we often get a craving for more complex music, and might start listening to classical and jazz—while still maintaining an affection for what we loved when we were 20. So no need to re-do your music shelf— your Berlioz can go right next to your B52s.