14 March 2007

Social psychology and music

Rentfrow, P.J., & Gosling, S.D. (2003). The do re mi's of everyday life: The structure and personality correlates of music preferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 1236-1256. Also ...

Rentfrow, P.J., & Gosling, S.D. (2006). Message in a Ballad: The role of music preferences in interpersonal perception. Psychological Science, 17, 236-242.

Rentfrow and Gosling divide music thus:

1. Reflective and Complex (blues, jazz, classical, and folk)

2. Intense and Rebellious (rock, alternative, heavy metal)

3. Upbeat and Conventional (country music, Broadway Showtunes, Top 40 formats)

4. Energetic and Rhythmic (rap, soul, electronica....).

According to Rentfrow et ux, people who prefer (1) are likely to be open to experience, intelligent and aware of that, verbally agile, emotionally stable, and politically liberal. Those who prefer (2) are also open to experience intelligent etc., but are more extraverted than the first group, more likely to be athletic and have a "social dominance orientation" -- i.e. they'll want to become the president of whatever outfit they join. Those who prefer (3) are friendly extraverted folks, conscientious, probably not as intelligent as members of the first two groups, and are politically conservative. Finally, the folks who like (4) are extraverted, agreeable, physically attractive and aware of it, and also politically conservative.

You can now have some fun deciding whether any of this describes you and your preferences. Personally, my iPod is split between songs that these professors would probably put in (1) and those they'd put in (3). But utterly lacking in songs they'd put in (2) or (4).

You are free to draw your own conclusions.

Please don't conclude that I refrain from giving credit where it's due, though. I didn't run across this research, I lifted it from a science-oriented blog.


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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.