Does your musical taste define you?


If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time you’ve probably taken a myriad of personality and work style tests. There are tests such as Myers Briggs, Strengths Finder, Big Five Factors and many others designed to help us understand ourselves better.

Now comes a new idea in determining the kind of person we are. The Public Library of Science has recently released their research on musical preferences and personality type. In an article titled, Musical Preferences are Linked to Cognitive Styles, they suggest that there are strong links between what’s on our stereo and the kind of people we are.

Why do we like the music we do? Research has shown that musical preferences and personality are linked, yet little is known about other influences on preferences such as cognitive styles. To address this gap, we investigated how individual differences in musical preferences are explained by the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory.

Reporting on the study for ABC Science, Bianca Nogrady highlighted the key findings of the research.

Their work shows people who are more empathetic — have a greater ability to identify, predict and respond to the emotions of others — are drawn to more mellow, sad, poetic and sensual music, such as R&B, adult contemporary and soft rock.

However people with more analytical tendencies (called ‘systemisers’) go in the opposite direction, seeking punk, heavy metal, avant garde jazz and hard rock.

“Systemising … is this drive to look at patterns and deconstruct and analyse the rules in the world,” says lead author David Greenberg, psychology PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge.

“So if you’re looking at a mountain, you’re curious about how the mountain is formed and how it’s developed over a period of time, [while] an empathiser may focus more on the aesthetics of it or the feeling of awe.”

The study emerged from an ongoing effort to understand why people like the music they do; why some people love the music of Joni Mitchell while others can’t stand it. – ABC Science

The studies are quite extensive and worth reading through but I’m left with the bigger question of what my musical taste might be saying about me.

Considering my iPod has music from a wide range of genres, from rock to jazz to very mellow, I’m confused as to where I fit. Does my eclectic taste mean that I have elements of both the empathiser and the systemiser or does it mean I’m neither? Does the fact that I’m even asking these questions mean that I lean more towards one than the other?

What do you think? According to the study are you an empathiser or a systemiser? Does the study seem to fit with your experience? I’ve love your input.

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Personality types and the church

church.jpgIs there a particular personality type that is drawn to attending church? Are there others who will never feel comfortable being part of a traditional church service?

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we discussed research that shows those who attend mainstream evangelical churches are people who are analytical and reasoned in their thinking whereas many of those who are on a spiritual search are more reliant on intuition and feelings based.

Both personality types are required in the wider church but how do we connect people from both camps?

If you’d like to hear what Ross has to say on the topic just click the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

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