How to life

Music tastes link to personality

Musical tastes and personality type are closely related, according to a study of more than 36,000 people from around the world.

The research, which was carried out by Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, is said to be the largest such study ever undertaken.

It suggested classical music fans were shy, while heavy metal aficionados were gentle and at ease with themselves.

Professor North described the research as "significant" and "surprising".

What does your musical taste say about you?

He said: "We have always suspected a link between music taste and personality. This is the first time that we’ve been able to look at it in real detail. No-one has ever done this on this scale before."

Prof North said the research could have many uses in marketing, adding: "If you know a person’s music preference you can tell what kind of person they are, who to sell to.

"There are obvious implications for the music industry who are are worried about declining CD sales.

"One of the most surprising things is the similarities between fans of classical music and heavy metal. They’re both creative and at ease but not outgoing.

"The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally depressed and of being a danger to themselves and society in general. But they are quite delicate things."

More than 36,000 people from all over the world were asked to rate 104 musical styles and also questioned about aspects of their personality.

The study is continuing and Prof North, who is head of the university’s department of applied psychology, is still looking for participants to take part in a short online questionnaire.


BLUES: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
JAZZ: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease
CLASSICAL MUSIC: High self-esteem, creative, introvert and at ease
RAP: High self-esteem, outgoing
OPERA: High self-esteem, creative, gentle
COUNTRY AND WESTERN: Hardworking, outgoing
REGGAE: High self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
DANCE: Creative, outgoing, not gentle
INDIE: Low self-esteem, creative, not hard working, not gentle
BOLLYWOOD: Creative, outgoing
ROCK/HEAVY METAL: Low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, at ease
CHART POP: High self-esteem, not creative, hardworking, outgoing, gentle, not at ease
SOUL: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease

Source: Heriot-Watt University

BBC News
September 5, 2008