In the past, finding links between music preference and personality type has been hampered because respondents were younger and shared a narrow band of tastes.
Researchers from Fitzwilliam College in the UK conducted worldwide, online studies of over 20,000 respondents. More than half those surveyed were over 22, and they were presented with 25 unfamiliar musical excerpts pre-categorised by musicologists.
The surveys differentiated personality types on the ‘big five’ model used by scientists for 50 years: openness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness.
The team, led by Jason Rentfrow from Fitzwilliam College, found ‘open’ personalities liked ‘sophisticated’ music – defined as “inspiring, complex and dynamic” – but were less impressed with slow, mellow music.
People who score highly for openness like to learn new things and enjoy new experiences, researchers said.
Extroverts, who are talkative and energetic, showed a preference for ‘unpretentious’ music categorized as uncomplicated, relaxing and acoustic.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, also concluded that once you have evidence of a person’s musical tastes you can predict their personality type.
“An active measure of naturally occurring behaviour, Facebook Likes for musical artists, also predict individual differences in personality,” researchers said.
Agreeable people tended to give all the music clips higher scores, while neurotics marked more harshly. Conscientiousness did not seem to be correlated to any particular genre of music.