Researchers from Heriot-Wyatt University in Edinburgh studied more than 36,000 people in 60 countries – to examine the relationship between musical preference and personality.
What they found was that music defines people more than any other taste – meaning that the music we love actually tells the world who we are on a deeper level.
Professor North, who conducted the study, said he was interested in doing so because music is such a significant part of many people’s identity.
“People do actually define themselves through music and relate to other people through it but we haven’t known in detail how music is connected to identity,” he said.
“We have always suspected a link between music taste and personality. This is the first time that we’ve been able to look at it in real detail. No one has ever done this on this scale before.”
Some of their findings are listed below, but do they match up with you?
Have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
Have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
Classical music fans
Have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
Have high self-esteem and are outgoing
Have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
Country and western fans
Are hardworking and outgoing
Have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
Are creative and outgoing but not gentle
Have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
Are creative and outgoing
Rock/heavy metal fans
Have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
Chart pop fans
Have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
Have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease
The study drew up some surprising findings too, about universal similarities and misconceptions in society.
“The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally depressed and being a danger to themselves and society in general,” said Professor North.
“But they are quite delicate things. Aside from their age, they’re basically the same kind of person [as a classical music fan]. 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.”
Indeed the study showed that old and young music lovers shared this same sentiment, a desire and “love of the grandiose.”
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