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How Does Your Personality Affect the Kind of Music You Listen To

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Have you ever wondered why you love pop music while your friend can't get enough of jazz? Research might be able to explain.

Music has been an integral part of human culture for thousands of years. The oldest musical instrument discovered so far, a flute from southwestern Germany, dates back at least 42,000 years (Higham et al., 2012). From an evolutionary standpoint, the innate potential for music may have developed because of its properties to improve parent-infant bonding and help humans acquire language, understand the world, and organize socially (Hodges, 2020). While researchers are working to provide theories and frameworks for how musicality developed in humans in history, how humans use music today is still being studied. There should be no doubt that music is of fundamental importance to human culture as a whole and to nearly all individuals as well. Music has never been as accessible to the average person as it is today. The combination of mobile smart phones, digital music streaming platforms, and personal headphones/earbuds, music can be consumed by almost anyone at any time of the day; but how and why are certain genres preferred by different people, and what is the purpose for their music listening? The aim of this paper is to describe the connections between personality, music preference, and use of music.

Personality and the Personality Models

Personality describes the differing thought, emotion, and behavior patterns between individuals. Each person has a unique personality; however, different personality tests have been developed to group personalities into types or measure certain common traits. Two well-known personality models are the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Five-Factor Model, or Big Five. Based on the work of Carl Jung, the MBTI was developed in the 1940s by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. After measuring an individual’s scores on the self-report inventory, the respondent is given one of 16 “types” made up of four letters, each representing one of the four dichotomies used to define each type (Briggs Myers et al., 2003).

The Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I) pair explores whether people gain energy from social interactions or feel recharged after time alone.

The Sensing (S) – Intuition (N) scale identifies whether people gather information about reality through their senses or pay attention to their intuition and imagination.