This is what your taste in music says about your personality, according to a huge new study

This is what your taste in music says about your personality, according to a huge new study

Despite its sometimes dubious scientific basis, the personality testing industry rakes in about $2 billion annually by telling companies that their new hire is an INFJ or revealing their HEXACO type. A new study suggests that your company could save some money and simply ask candidates about their musical tastes.

Your taste in music really reveals your personality.

We’ve all heard the popular stereotypes about fans of certain types of music. But are metalheads really aggressive, are classical music fans smart, and are emo kids prone to sadness? Can our taste in music suggest more than our current mood or fashion preferences and say something concrete about our personalities?

To find out, researchers from the University of Cambridge and Bar-Ilan University in Israel used an online questionnaire to extract information about the musical preferences and personalities of more than 285,000 study subjects from 53 countries (you can try the questionnaire yourself here). . They also created a website where 71,000 visitors from 34 countries rated music clips and answered a personality quiz.

The team used well-known and scientifically validated frameworks to categorize both music and personality. The aptly named MUSIC framework classifies music into five dimensions: smooth, unassuming, sophisticated, intense, and contemporary. The Big 5 Family Personality Framework classifies people according to their openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness.

Did the research team find any correlation between the type of music someone enjoyed and their personality type? Yes, researchers recently reported in the Journal of personality and social psychology. Extroverts all over the world tend to like upbeat, danceable contemporary music. So if you want to check if that job candidate (or potential romantic partner) really is an extrovert, ask for his opinion on Ed Sheeran.

Are you worried that you might be hiring someone with a high level of neuroticism? Start a conversation about ’90s grunge. The study found that fans of Nirvana’s classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and other intense music had a higher level of neuroticism on average. However, those with a lot of conscience tended to shy away from more intense music, so if you’re looking for every ‘i’ to be dotted, maybe skip the guy who comes in a Rage Against the Machine t-shirt.

Looking for a nice guy? Then put on some Marvin Gaye and see how they react. The researchers found a strong correlation between liking soft music and agreeableness.

In general, the researchers were surprised by the amount of musical taste that transcended borders and revealed personality. “We were surprised by how much these patterns between music and personality were replicated around the world. People may be divided by geography, language and culture, but if an introvert in one part of the world likes the same music as introverts elsewhere, that suggests music could be a very powerful bridge,” said study leader David Greenberg.

OK, maybe don’t hire based on musical taste alone…

I’m kidding about selecting candidates based on their taste in music, of course. There are much better ways to find out a candidate’s personality and skills, and the researchers caution that these correlations are averages. You shouldn’t pigeonhole someone based only on their favorite artist.

“We all have combinations of personality traits and combinations of music preferences from different strengths. Our findings are based on averages and we have to start somewhere to begin to see and understand the connections,” says Greenberg.

But this research, aside from being just plain hilarious, suggests that our instincts are basically correct when it comes to musical taste and personality. What you love to hear can really reveal a lot about you.

So while you should never cross a candidate off because of their favorite Spotify playlist (or rule out a date for that matter, trust me, a soft music guy married to a metalhead), you can be pretty sure that when people tells you about their musical tastes, they’re also telling you something about their personalities.

Opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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