Your preferred music genre gives a lot of insight into your personality. Researchers have recently made a connection between the big five personality traits and the music we listen to. To start, take your test HERE. This is a pretty cool test and helps out the folks continuing to do this research.
How do vibrating molecules in the air striking a nerve and sending a signal to our brain cause such an defining experience?
What does the music you listen to say about you and others?
I don’t know…
How Music Works in Our Brains
Your favorite song comes on. The vibrating molecules send the sound waves through the air. They travel from the speaker (or headphones) down your auditory canal and vibrate the eardrum. From there, the raw data becomes perceived.
The Temporal Lobe processes the sound. In the language processing center, music is truly appreciated. Words are typically perceived in the right hemisphere and sound in the left.
The Frontal Lobe, responsible for decision making, thinking and planning, can be enhanced and influenced by music.
Broca’s Area is the part of the brain that expresses speech. Relatedly, the part responsible for the ability to perform music. Suggesting that playing an instrument or the ability to perform music may enhance the ability to communicate.
Wernicke’s Area is the place in the brain where we enjoy and analyze the music. This area is also where we comprehend language.
Vision is processed in the Occipital Lobe. While most won’t perceive music here, there is evidence that musicians use this part of the brain to visualise music.
The Nucleus Accumbens is in charge of rewards, releasing dopamine. Music causes this dopamine reaction in much the same way as cocaine. Also associated with addiction, music can become addictive.
The Amygdala commands our emotions, their triggers. Emotions caused by music might cause physical reactions in much the same way. Have you ever had goosebumps during your favorite song? Cried at a live performance?
Memories are both stored and created in the Hippocampus. This area of the brain also helps regulate emotional responses among a host of other functions. Music may help with regenerating neurons improving memory.
Our body’s baseline regulated by the Hypothalamus. For example, body temperature, sex drive and appetite. Music can have an influence on this function as well. Relaxing music will lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate.
The Putamen is where our rhythm and body movements are coordinated. Dopamine released here will cause use to want to dance, particularly if the music is rhythmic14.
Music is truly a very powerful force on our brains.
You and Your Music
Recently, there has come a lot of research regarding personality and music taste. To help with our understanding, much of it correlates with the Big Five Personality Traits: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness to Experience and Extraversion.
Fans of Pop appear to be honest, conventional and extraverted2. They score low on Openness and high on just about everything else6.
Rock fans were found to be gentle, introverted and had low self-esteem2. They scored increasingly high on Agreeableness, were less likely to be practical but more imaginative. They scored high on Openness6.
High self-esteem, introverted, at ease with the world and creative2. Relatedly, classical music may improve visual attention10.
Like the rockers, these folks are introverted, tend to have lower self-esteem and scored high on Openness. However, they scored low on Agreeableness and higher on Neuroticism6.
Similar to our punkers, high in Openness and Neuroticism and similar to rock fans in Agreeableness6. Liberalism is more strongly associate with this preference as well as punk/metal, classical and rock5.
Outgoing and high self-esteem2, higher in Extroversion. Research that has taken a deeper dive suggests that these folks tend to display more politeness and compassion5.
Outgoing and assertive, not as gentle as the others2. These folks rate high in Conscientiousness and Extraversion. Furthermore, they score low on Agreeableness and tend to prioritize goals over relationships6.
These folks tend to be outgoing, have high self-esteem. They are creative, at ease and intelligent2. Rating high in Openness and Neuroticism, these trends are characteristic of Jazz fans6.
Additionally, intelligence is highly correlated with the a preference for music without words12.
The Music You Don’t Like
Much of our musical tastes are the cause of nature and nurture. Mainly, the physical structure of our auditory system. In relation, research explored how dissonance (lack of harmony) impacts the enjoyment of music. Trained musicians who knew the notes individually played in the chords, were able to enjoy the music more8. There are number of ideas to draw from this.
First, this suggests that the more we learn about the music, the more we can enjoy it. Simply put, we can learn to enjoy any kind of music. Second, the assumption that what we find appealing is due to its physicality can’t be true.
So, while we can judge others’ musical tastes. Or, we can decide there is music that we just don’t like, it seems we can learn to like it.
A study done in 2017 discovered that our brains come up with a baseline of what we consider our “favorite music” pretty early on. For females, from 11 to 13 and for males, 13 to 16. We also get another dose of “influence” in our early twenties14. In another sense, your tastes may already be made (if you’re older than sixteen or past your mid twenties, of course).
However, there are some folks among us that can’t enjoy music. This is called Musical Anhedonia. This is a neurological disorder in which the communication between the grey matter and white matter, cannot communicate the pleasure of music15.
While research is still in its beginning phases in fully understanding the relationship between music and personality, it remains interesting. I believe that this is another effective baseline and starting point in self-discovery.
So, was you test accurate?
Share your thoughts!