The Song Is You: Preferences for Musical Attribute Dimensions Reflect Personality

The Song Is You: Preferences for Musical Attribute Dimensions Reflect Personality

By
David M. Greenberg, Michal Kosinski, David J. Stillwell, Brian L. Monteiro, Daniel J. Levitin, Peter J. Rentfrow
Social Psychological and Personality Science. August
2016, Vol. 7, Issue 6, Pages 597–605

Research suggests that musical preferences are linked to personality, but this research has been hindered by genre-based theories and methods. We address this limitation using a novel method based on the actual attributes that people perceive from music. In Study 1, using 102 musical pieces representing 26 genres and subgenres, we show that 38 perceived attributes in music can be organized into three basic dimensions: arousal, valence, and depth. In Study 2 (N = 9,454), we show that people’s preferences for these musical attributes reflected their self-ratings of personality traits. Importantly, personality was found to predict musical preferences above and beyond demographic variables. These findings advance previous theory and research and have direct applications for the music industry, recommendation algorithms, and health-care professionals.