It took online studies involving more than 20 000 people for these conclusions to be reached, and participants in the study were presented with 25 musical extracts unfamiliar to them, over a variety of different genres. They were then asked to complete surveys to assess what types of personalities they had, which included questions regarding their levels of extraversion, their openness, their agreeability, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
The More Open You Are, the More Sophisticated Your Musical Tastes
Unlike playing pokies online, for example, which almost everyone enjoys, the studies revealed that we have very different approaches to music, and these tastes can be used to uncover certain broad personality traits.
More open personalities enjoy more intricate musical genres, but were less interested in acoustic songs, which are classified as more easy-going. Meanwhile, extraverted personalities tend to prefer more unassuming music, including acoustic and easy listening type songs.
In the study, which was published in the Psychological Science Journal, researchers said that their results corroborated that music, which is a form of self-expression that is omnipresent across human culture, communicates meaningful data about basic psychological attributes.
Empathetic People Versus More Systematic Individuals
People who scored highly in terms of empathy may prefer a certain genre of music compared to those who were more systematic, said David Greenberg, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge.
Those who have a highly developed ability to make sense of thoughts and feelings in themselves and others, as empathisers are described, tend to opt for more mellow music that evokes deeper emotions.
But the world is full of underlying systems and patterns, and those who are more easily able to identify these connections, so called systemisers, prefer more intense music that forms more complicated sounds.
Greenberg stated that the theory is that empathisers are more interested in the emotional quality of a piece of music, and how this makes them feel, whereas systemisers are more drawn to more complicated structural qualities. The latter focus more on the various instrumental elements, seeing how the song is mixing these together, and view a track more as a puzzle which they can put together than as something to evoke an emotional experience.
Systemisers lean towards occupations in the fields of mathematics and science: the meteorologist rapidly deciphering weather patterns emerging, or the geologist untangling mountains of information to discover how rocks are formed. Those that are interested in tech also fall into this categoy in general.
Empathisers are excellent listeners, thanks to their ability to put themselves in another person’s position.
While systemisers don’t necessarily lack empathy, they flourish in terms of systemising information rather than empathising with it.
Balanced Thinking Styles Combine the Two
Greenberg found that people who don’t have a preference, and enjoy both intense and mellower musical scores, will see this characteristic reflected in the tests regarding their empathetic and systematic abilities, and a more balanced thinking style will be indicated.