Is Music a Window to Our Personalities?

Have you ever found yourself judging someone based off of the genre of music they listen to, or a certain song you may catch them listening to at a certain time? Oscar Wilde once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent,” and here, he couldn’t have been more correct.

Studies have shown that we as a society tend to find certain things in music and different types of music that we can relate to and that tend to give us reflections of ourselves. So, in other words, this assumption you may have already made might be correct or at least on the right track of discovering who a person is. With that being said, is this truly something that gives insight to a person and who they are? A lot of people seem to think so.

Your music taste does give everyone around you a huge insight into who you are as a person. Music can tell how you feel, your childhood background, and even reflect your politics. Time has given a small insight to what it says about you, but Psychology Today really dove into the background of it by stating different personality types and the music behind them. Another thing Psychology Today stated was that, “Strangers can accurately assess another person’s level of creativity, open-mindedness and extroversion after listening to his or her top 10 favorite songs.” This sparked my interest because when you think about how often you listen to music and how many strangers might hear it everyday, they are actually judging who you are just based off of what they are hearing.

Dr. Jason Rentfrow from The University of Cambridge and Samuel Gosling, PhD from The University of Texas have been conducting studies with this exact thing. Their discoveries were very interesting. Something that was discovered was that what you may think about someone based off of their taste in music is actually probably quite wrong. For instance, the assumption most people would make about anyone that listens to rock music is that they are a rebellious bunch and that they are very artistic but the truth is quite the opposite. Most of those people tend to be more on the shy side. So, although yes, we are all making assumptions about people based off of what we hear from their headphones or when going through their playlists, your assumptions could be quite wrong.

Headphones to tune you into the world of your personality
Photo from: Wikimedia Creative Commons License
Headphones to tune you into the world of your personality

The American Psychology Association shared the information Gosling and Rentfrow found and that they came to the conclusion that there are really two main things or factors that create the connection between people’s prefered music and their personal characteristics. One of them being that people chose the music that reflects their mood and the activities they are doing at this said time.

Rentfrow said this about music reflecting their personalities, “People who enjoy spending time with others, people who enjoy talking and socializing, tend to enjoy music that is also extraverted–in some ways, party music.” The second thing being that people use music to tell people about themselves, mainly adolescence.

Another thing that was discovered by this study Rentfrow conducted was that the music we listen to actually is used as a “badge,” or a mark on our personalities. We have been marked by the music we listen to and what it tells about each of us as individuals. “Because we can’t carry out a full psychological assessment on the spot, we ask them questions which help us to build up a picture of their personality. This research suggests that, even though our assumptions may not be accurate, we get a very strong impression about someone when we ask them what music they like,” Rentfrow said about the studies that have been done.

I began asking around to get more of an insight into what fellow classmates think and what they had to say masked this. I asked the question: Would you say that the type of music we listen to reflects our personalities and who we are as people?

Allison Horn, a freshman here at Lake City, responded with, “Like, when you listen to happy music or music that makes you happy it tends to make you feel good and be bright. And whatever mood you’re in it influences your taste of music. It’s like your smile or your eyes, your music is a way of speech.”

Rooke Bissaillon, a junior, had to say, “Yes I do because I think that we do because we listen to the music that we are in the mood for so the mood we’re primarily in is reflected in our music.”

Another opinion I was able to get was from a sophomore here, Kenzie Hudson, and she told me, “Music says more than a thousand words that we can’t say. It expresses our feelings toward people, life, and certain situations. the type of music we like reflects our personalities and our life.”

I also asked Trystan Oliver, who is another junior at Lake City, and he added, “Yes, because the music we listen to is a reflection of who we are, and vice versa.” So, I guess you could say that everyone asked agrees with this to say the least.

For the most part, I guess it would be safe to say that people would agree that this study proves to be accurate and would match what most others think. This is a topic that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and thought about yourself and who you are. Now, I don’t just mean thought about your music choice and what you might now be thinking it says about you, but also the fact that you have probably judged someone at some time based off of the music they listen to.

If you get anything out of this, it should be that you may now have a deeper understanding about yourself and also you might have a desire to do some research on this yourself and see what you may discover on your own. Whatever the case may be, go listen to some music and surprise yourself on the thoughts you might have about it that you may never have had before.