For many of us, our taste in music is an integral part of our identity – so much so that, to a certain extent, what we listen to is who we are. The songs of our youth, heard a thousand times, fill our headspace with stray lyrics and infectious grooves, creating a filter for the way we see, hear, and understand the world from then on out. And while some have a less conscious, more organic approach, others actively draw boundaries between the music they accept and the music they deny – and by extension, the people associated with those musical cultures, as well.
The link between musical preferences and personality is so strong that many of us feel a quick skim of one’s iTunes folder, Spotify playlists, or record collection would reveal a wealth of information about the owner, even if these supposed revelations are distorted by the lens of our own inherent prejudices. A punk fan may instantly dismiss someone with an extensive selection of country, assuming that possession of such music all but guarantees a certain provincialism on the part of the possessor. Of course, as with all stereotypes, hasty judgments are usually wrongheaded – genre, like one’s personality type, is more a guide than a straightjacket, and wisdom is more readily found in the hidden nuances than in the broad strokes.
Nevertheless, though there are genre-bending outliers to be found in every category of music, the general tendencies of each may cause certain personalities to gravitate more readily towards particular genres, while being repelled by others. Furthermore, as much as we might identify ourselves – and classify one another – by our choice of genre, our preferred medium (MP3 player, laptop, car stereo) might be just as telling.
This article is based on our survey of over 4000 respondents whom we asked about their music preferences. The survey has revealed the outlooks different personalities have on music – what we listen to, when we listen to it, and how we do the listening. The answers to each question, as you will see, illustrate the importance of decisions that may have long since become all but automatic.