Musical tastes can predict personality traits and political leaning

Summary: Your musical preference may reveal a lot about your personality traits and political orientation, and vice versa.

Source: Neuroscience News

You are what you listen to. That is the conclusion of a new study conducted by Adrian North and his team from Curtin University.

Recently published in Psychology of Music, North reported there is a link between musical preference and both personality traits and political orientation.

Surveying 157 Australian students aged between 17 and 55, researchers gathered information about musical tastes, personality, and political orientation.

The study found a significant relationship between musical preference and personality, based on the Big Five model. However, aspects of personality traits, and not personality domains, were found to be more predictive in establishing a person’s musical preference.

A preference for rhythmic music, such as rap, hip-hop, reggae, and R&B, was associated with specific aspects of agreeableness, but not as a broad domain. Rhythmic music fans tended to score high for traits related to compassion, but lower on politeness.

This shows a woman flipping through vinyl
Aspects of personality traits, and not personality domains, were found to be more predictive in establishing a person’s musical preference. The image is in the public domain.

In terms of political orientation, those who preferred more intense music, such as punk, rock, metal, and indie, and ‘established’ music like jazz, blues and classical, were more likely to be liberal-leaning. Preference for these genres was associated with a person being more likely to advocate for social change and equality.

The study concludes that aspects of openness, intelligence, compassion, politeness, assertiveness, and political orientation are unique predictors of personal musical tastes, and vice versa. However, personality aspects, rather than complete personality domains, were most predictive of musical preference.

About this neuroscience research article

Neuroscience News
Media Contacts:
Victoria Driscoll – Neuroscience News
Image Source:
The image is credited to Neuroscience News.

Original Research: Closed access
“Predicting musical taste: Relationships with personality aspects and political orientation”. Scott P Devenport, Adrian C North.
Psychology of Music doi:10.1177/0305735619864647.


Predicting musical taste: Relationships with personality aspects and political orientation

Based on their meta-analysis, Schäfer and Mehlhorn argue that the weak relationships identified indicate that personality is a poor predictor of musical taste. The present research challenged this by measuring personality aspects rather than the Big Five domains and also political orientation. A sample of 157 university students aged 17 to 55 years (M = 24.60, SD = 7.63) completed measures of musical taste (Short Test of Musical Preference [STOMP-R]), personality (Big Five Aspects Scale [BFAS]), and political orientation (International Personality Item Pool [IPIP] Liberalism). Responses to the STOMP-R produced four factors, labeled Intense, Rhythmic, Established, and Mainstream music. Hierarchical multiple regression indicated that, in comparison to domains (R2 range = .12–.23, p < .05), aspects of personality were better predictors of musical taste for three of four musical dimensions (R2 range = .20–.28, p < .05). Both the aspect and domain models included political orientation. Conflicting correlational relationships within domains were responsible for weaker relationships at the domain level. Aspects of intellect, openness, assertiveness, compassion, politeness, and also political orientation were unique predictors of musical taste across the four dimensions. Personality aspects and political orientation were superior predictors of musical taste in comparison to personality domains. Future research should investigate these aspect-level relationships in more diverse samples.

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