Music Choices Reflect Personality

By: Nick Swafford

We all listen to music, but we don’t all listen to the same stuff. Based on age, culture, where you live, and mood, your music choices vary. If you’re anything like some people I know, you might happen to listen to depressing music when you’re feeling sad, which, of course, is the logical thing to do. I mean, what else is there? Listen to happy music? Sounds terrible, so thanks, but no thanks.

The funny thing is, I’m only half joking. Mood plays a tremendous part whenever I’m choosing what music to listen to, and whatever song I decide on usually has some sort of impact on my mood. And before I know it, I’ve come a full circle. As I see it, mood impacts music choice, music choice impacts mood, and so on and so forth. Mood of course isn’t the only decider of what kind of music you listen to; I believe personality plays an even bigger role.

Personality means “the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual or a nation or group; especially the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.” I guess mood is part of your personality. You learn something new every day. Anyways, if personality is your behavioral and emotional attributes mixed with your characteristics, I’m certain this has some sort of impact on what music you decide to listen to. In fact, there have been several studies where researchers ask people all over the globe their favorite type of music then tie it to their personality.

In a three-year study of more than 35,000 people in 60 different countries conducted by Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK, it was found that certain music genres correlated to specific personality characteristics:

Blues fans high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
Jazz fans high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, and at ease
Classical fans high self-esteem, are creative, introvert, and at ease
Rap fans high self-esteem and are outgoing
Opera fans high self-esteem, are creative, and gentle
Country/Western fans hardworking and outgoing
Reggae fans high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
Indie fans low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
Dance fans creative and outgoing, but not gentle
Rock/Heavy Metal fans low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
Chart Pop fans high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative, and not at ease
Soul fans high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease

Now, before you get defensive, this is just an approximate study, and genres are more like guidance points and less like straitjackets that bind you indefinitely. This means you can like any of these genres and not be bound to the corresponding traits. also conducted an experiment. They took the personality types that the test determines and then connected it to certain genres based on what the majority of people with that personality type enjoy. Some of these include Pop having a majority of fans from ESFP’s, ESFJ’s, and ISFP’s, while alternative rock has a majority of ENTP’s, INFP’s, and INFJ’s. For more details on 16 personalities’ study, you can find it on their website,

Of course, as I stated before, age, culture, and where you live have an impact on your music choice. Teenagers, for example, tend to listen to the same types of music as a way to fit in and relate to each other, so if you grew up in a place that heavily stressed religion, you might listen to that more than other genres.

So, it must be asked: is the music you listen to influencing you, or are you influencing your music?



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