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    What’s the Relationship Between Music Genres and Personality Traits?

    Published on June 23, 2020

    The relationship between music genres and personality traits has always attracted the attention of experts in many fields of science. Those who chose to examine these relations often changed the way they categorized genres.
    In some studies, for example, they used a list of genres, other times they placed the most popular genres in one of the categories formed on the basis of music characteristics, such as rhythm and complexity, etc. It was regularly tried to be checked which stereotypes are related to the values, inclinations, and habits of fans of certain music genres.

    Is There a Consensus in Judging People Based on Their Musical Preferences?

    People make similar conclusions about fans of a music genre, but the degree of agreement of evaluators isn’t always the same. For example, the level of agreement is high among fans of classical music and low among fans of pop and blues. Also, within the same musical direction, the degree of agreement in the assessment varies for different categories of what is being assessed.

    When it comes to assessing the basic personality traits, the degree of agreement of the assessors is quite high but, of course, it varies depending on the musical direction. One study singles out, for example, a similar prototype of a rock fan and a rap fan. This prototype is characterized by high extraversion, mediocre pleasure, and low conscientiousness.

    What about the similarities or differences between music fans in various countries. An interactive chart made by statisticians might help us with this as they compared 20 chart-toppers in 22 different countries in the last 10 years in order to understand why exactly these songs made a breakthrough to the No. 1. Each song was described with several characteristics (genre, key, tempo, energy, danceability, and time signature).

    This unique chart tells us that, for instance, that in the USA, a pop song, written in key C, with a tempo of 111 BPM, and time signature 4/4 has the best chance of success. In terms of energy and danceability, these numbers are 63 out of 100 and 65 out of 100, respectively.

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    In a chart, you can check out in what country the tempo was most upbeat, where more energetic and where more relaxing songs prevailed, and where did danceability dictate the top of the charts.

    Are Our Estimates Correct?
    Yes and no. The validity of musical stereotypes has been shown to vary. Stereotypes related to classical, religious, and country music, as well as jazz, had the highest validity, which practically means that we make the least mistakes when, based on the preference of these genres, we make a conclusion about an individual, a fan of that genre.
    But you have to be careful here, too. While in jazz, for example, stereotypes have greater or lesser validity, in classical music estimates of value have noticeably greater validity, and in heavy metal, personality assessments have the greatest validity.

    What Characteristics of Music Do We Use in Reasoning?

    Through the extensive statistical analysis, researchers came to a list of characteristics of music that are important indicators of someone’s personality. So it turned out that when we conclude about whether an individual is an extrovert, we use the energy and enthusiasm contained in the music, as well as the presence of singing.
    According to the results, the attributes of music (melodies, songs) are more important to us than the musical direction to which the song belongs. And estimates based on these traits are often more accurate due to the correlations that achieve the characteristics of music with personality traits. For example, the complexity of the music is positively correlated with openness and verbal abilities, but also the political liberalism of people.

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