Musical tastes are strongly influenced by personalities of the musicians, study claims

TEL AVIV — What creates someone’s particular taste in music? Is it the singer’s voice? The quality of a record? A new study suggests your choice in music may actually not always be about the songs. Psychologists say a musician’s personality plays a big role in determining a person’s musical preferences.

A team from Bar Ilan University in Israel says people usually like other people they can easily relate to, and it’s no different for musicians. The study finds many bands and musicians create a public persona for themselves that makes them more accessible to their fans. Fans are usually quite similar to the persona of their favorite artists.

Researchers note their study examines the relationship between the fans’ personalities and how artists are perceived in the public realm. They do not study the actual personalities and behavior of the artists.

Who’s in your personality playlist?

The psychologists measure “persona ratings” of 50 of the most famous musicians, listener reactions to their music, and the lyrics from each of the performers.

Over 80,000 participants took part in the three separate studies on the between musicians and their fans. Researchers covered all genres and eras, ranging from Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Whitney Houston, and The Rolling Stones to newer acts like Beyoncé, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, and Taylor Swift.

The results show there’s a fairly strong connection between the music a person likes and the similarities between their personalities. The study authors say that personality predicts music preferences just as much as the singer’s gender, age, and even audio quality.

Music bringing fans together

The international team suggests that music is a strong tool for bringing people together and giving them a sense of belonging.

“In today’s world, where social divisions are increasing, our studies are showing us how music can be a common denominator to bring people together,” Dr. David Greenberg says in a university release.

“The findings can be applied to situations involving mental health. For example, in times of stress and uncertainty, listeners can seek music of artists with similar personalities to themselves and feel understood and a sense of connectedness,” Dr. H. Andrew Schwartz of Stony Brook University adds.

The study is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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