September 5, 2008 / 9:44 AM / in 10 years

Musical taste "defines personality"

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Fans of classical music and jazz are creative, pop lovers are hardworking and, despite the stereotypes, heavy metal listeners are gentle, creative types who are at ease with themselves.

A man plays the saxophone in New York's Central Park October 12, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

So says Professor Adrian North of Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University who has been studying the links between people’s personalities and their choice of music.

“People often define their sense of identity through their musical taste, wearing particular clothes, going to certain pubs, and using certain types of slang,” North said.

“It’s not surprising that personality should also be related to musical preference.”

In what North said was the largest study ever conducted into individuals’ musical preference and character, researchers asked 36,518 people from around the world to rate how much they liked 104 different musical styles before taking a personality test.

“Researchers have been showing for decades that fans of rock and rap are rebellious, and that fans of opera are wealthy and well-educated,” North said.

“But this is the first time that research has shown that personality links to liking for a wide range of musical styles.”

The study concluded that jazz and classical music fans are creative with good self-esteem, although the former are much more outgoing whereas the latter are shy.

Country and western fans were found to be hardworking and shy; rap fans are outgoing and indie lovers lack self-esteem and are not very gentle.

Those who like soul music can take heart as the research concluded they are creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease with themselves and have a high self-esteem.

And if you’ve ever wondered why people driving expensive sports cars often have music blaring from their vehicle, North could have an explanation.

Those who choose to listen to exciting, punchy music are more likely to be in a higher earning bracket, he says, while those who go for relaxing sounds tend to be lower down the pay scale.

North is still looking for volunteers to take part in the research. Details on www.peopleintomusic.com/

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison

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