Classical to Rap: Music lovers have much more in common than you would think (The Independent)

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Classical to Rap: Music lovers have much more in common than you would think

A psychological survey of more than 36,000 music lovers, shows our musical tastes really do reflect personality

By Chris Green
Friday, 5 September 2008

People who listen to indie bands are miserable shaggy-haired layabouts, while fans of rap music are bold, brash and brimming with self-confidence.

Rather than mere narrow- minded stereotyping, these are the results of an extensive psychological survey of more than 36,000 music lovers, which confirms, once and for all, that our musical tastes really do reflect our personality. But the study's most remarkable discovery is that refined lovers of classical music share a high number of personality traits with those who prefer rocking out to heavy metal.

The research, by the department of psychology at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, asked people worldwide to describe their personality, and then to list their favourite musical genres. The results show a distinct correlation between people's personality traits and the style of music they enjoy.

Fans of indie music, for instance, were found to have low self-esteem and little motivation, but described themselves as creative. Rap enthusiasts, on the other hand, tend to think a lot of themselves and are extremely outgoing. Those who love dance music are equally extrovert but are more likely to be unfriendly and slightly self-centred.

Professor Adrian North, who led the study, said: "What this research really tries to get at is why music is such an important part of people's identity. What is it about music that helps us to define who we are?

"People often define their sense of identity through their musical taste, wearing particular clothes, going to certain pubs, and using certain types of slang. It's not so surprising that personality should also be related to musical preference."

Professor North also suggested that the results explain why so many people bond over music, and also why some of us are very protective about what we listen to, since it is likely to be profoundly linked to the person we are.

According to Professor North, both heavy metal and classical fans are united by a shared "love of the grandiose", which means that a Metallica fan is far more likely to listen to Mahler than an indie kid is to give reggae a try.

"Aside from their age difference, they're basically the same kind of person," he said. "Lots of heavy metal fans will tell you that they also like Wagner, because it's big, loud and brash. There's also a sense of theatre in both heavy rock and classical music, and I suspect that this is what they're really trying to get at when they listen."

John Gregson, 23, a classically-trained musician with a passion for heavy metal, agrees. "As an instrumentalist, out of all of the main genres of music heavy metal and classical are the ones which require the most discipline to play – they're technically very difficult and involve playing at inhumanly fast speeds," he said.

"You feel like you're in on a secret – you identify with it personally. It also feels like you know something that other people don't, because you appreciate a style of music which is often vilified."

What your music says about you

Indie: Devotees have low self-esteem and are not very hard-working, kind or generous. However, they are creative.

Rock 'n' Roll: Fans have high self-esteem and are very creative, hard-working and at ease with themselves, but not very kind or generous.

Blues: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease with themselves.

Classical: Classical music lovers have high self-esteem, are creative and at ease with themselves, but not outgoing.

Heavy metal: Very creative and at ease with themselves, but not very outgoing or hard-working.

Reggae: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, kind, generous and at ease with themselves, but not very hard-working.

Country & Western: Very hard-working and outgoing.

Dance: Creative and outgoing but not kind or generous.

Rap: High self-esteem, outgoing.

Ο λόγος είναι μεγάλη ανάγκη της ψυχής. (Γιώργος Ιωάννου)


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