Rage Against the Machine are unlikely to appeal to conscientious people, a University of Cambridge study about musical tastes and personality types has found. It also said that neurotic listeners are more likely to enjoy Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
The study, published earlier this year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, used data from 350,000 participants in over 50 countries to suggest that links between musical preferences and personality are universal. (via Study Finds)
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That implies that music could play a more substantial role in addressing social division. But the finding that Rage Against the Machine are unlikely to appeal to the contentious seems to fly in the face of the band’s original vision. One would perhaps think just the opposite — that the rap-rockers’ music, rooted in social justice and activism, mainly appeals to those who wish to do what is right.
“A team from the University of Cambridge shows how different singers and songs appeal to similar personality types around the globe,” The Study Finds Guy summarizes on YouTube. “For example, Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Shivers’ appeals to extroverts, while neurotic types are likely to be into Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.'”
It does not matter where a conscientious person lives, they are unlikely to enjoy Rage Against the Machine… –University of Cambridge
He continues, “Agreeable people tend to have Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ or Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s ‘Shallow’ on their playlist. … And it doesn’t matter where a conscientious person lives — they aren’t likely to enjoy Rage Against the Machine.”
Lead researcher Dr. David M. Greenburg explained, “We were surprised at just how much these patterns between music and personality replicated across the globe.”
He continued, “People may be divided by geography, language and culture, but if an introvert in one part of the world likes the same music as introverts elsewhere, that suggests music could be a very powerful bridge.”
Those with neurotic traits in the U.S. are as likely to be into Nirvana’s ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ as people with a similar personality living in Denmark or South Africa.
On top of using self-reported info from listeners of different musical genres who completed an inventory and provided demographic information, Greenburg asked other participants to listen to short audio clips from 16 genres and subgenres and give their reactions. Still, he cautioned that playing too hard to type can have drawbacks.
“If people who score high for neuroticism, for example, are being fed more intense music and they’re already feeling stressed and frustrated, is that helping with their anxiety or is it just reinforcing and perpetuating?” the researcher said. “These are the questions we now need to answer.”
The full University of Cambridge study, titled Universals and Variations in Musical Preferences: A Study of Preferential Reactions to Western Music in 53 Countries, is available to read online here.
The Study Finds Guy: Musical Preferences Unite Personalities Worldwide, Study Reveals
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