Music has infiltrated our culture. It is heard everywhere we go: in stores, on the streets, in the car, and always at our fingertips. Essentially, music is simply sound waves, or notes, that are strung together to form something that is pleasant to the ears of [if an artist is lucky] millions of listeners. Pop, country, rap, hip-hop, alternative, classic, dance, rock and roll, and more get stuck on rotation inside our brains without intention. No matter what genre you prefer, there is a song that resonates with almost every single person out there. Songs create lasting connections, bring forth memories, and extract emotions out of our core from their lyrics and sound.
Personality is to climate as mood is to weather. There are three main reasons why people listen to music: to improve performance on certain tasks, stimulate intellectual curiosity, and to manipulate or influence emotional states with the goal of achieving a desired mood. According to Psychology Today, due to the wide range of easily accessible music that is available to people in today’s society, not much conclusive research has been fulfilled to accurately connect music choice to personality. Most people will walk into another's space and instantly judge them based off of the surrounding DVD’s, TV channel choices and music that may be playing which can end up being a very accurate personality test, yet many tests have come through with counter-intuitive results.
On the other hand, a study conducted by Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University in the UK asked more than 36,000 people in over sixty countries to rate their musical styles in order of preference. His questionnaire also measured certain aspects of the individual's personality traits. “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,” says Professor North. He found that heavy metal and classical music both attract listeners with similar personalities but different ages. The sense of theatre found in these two types of genres connects them to each other is able to curate a correlation between listeners.
Celeste Lynch, Lincoln High School freshman, listens to genres of Latin Indie, EDM, Rap, Pop, and Lo-Fi Instrumental. The upbeat pulses of Pop and Latin music parallel her “driven, outgoing and clever” personality. When asked why she listens to music, Lynch explained that it is due to the fun and relaxing feeling that it provides for her. “Music is a really good way to pass time and makes mundane task seem a little more exciting,” Lynch continues. “There is almost always music playing in my house.”
For someone like Noah Grossman, an LHS sophomore who would describe himself as “sarcastic, witty, and intellectual”, eighty’s and ninety’s rock is his sweet spot. Among a variety of other genres, that is the one that he finds himself indulging in most often. “I’m not really drawn to listen to music, above all it really depends on what I’m doing,” Grossman explains. He does not feel the same seething connection that most do to certain songs, riding along on his own wave of personal preferences.
“Stubborn, compassionate, sensitive” Hailey Gagnon, another Lincoln High sophomore, also listens to a wide range of genres but tends to stick to rap and pop. Her favorite artists are Chris Brown, Ariana Grande, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Khalid, as well as a few others. She loves listening to music in order to relax. “I love to sing along while I get ready for things or ride the bus too,” Gagnon says as she takes her explanation a step further.
“The types of music I listen to often are disco and pop,” says Gianni Nunez, a member of the junior class at LHS. His favorite artists are Selena Quintanilla, Rihanna, Doja Cat and Donna Summer. All of those singers have a reputation for creating very up-beat, feel-good songs. When it comes to Nunez’s personality, he describes himself as “creative, empathetic, and goofy”. Nunez’s reason for listening to his favorite tunes is as poetic as some of the music that he listens to as he explains, “I listen to music because it brings me into an inspired mood. The lyrics inspire me to write stories, and little scenes run through my head like a movie.” He is able to let his imagination run wild with the lyrics and vibe of the music while his curiosity “flourishes without any repercussions”.
Sarah Brouillard, senior at LHS, listens to a variety of different genres and artists, but her go-to is the seventy’s and eighty’s. “I would say that I am passionate, devoted, and thrill-seeking,” Brouillard elaborates. She feels that music is a great way to connect with your emotions and is a strong part of your identity. “I listen to music because it makes me happy and puts me in a fun mood,” she continues. “Music choice can really tell you a lot about who a person is.”
Each of the above students were asked if they believed that music affected their personality and vice versa. For Lynch, when she listens to music it makes her feel more energized and motivated. “Slower music helps me concentrate while doing tedious work. When I feel like getting hyped up I might listen to some rap or EDM. When I feel like calming down I might put on some indie or instrumental lo-fi beat,” she explains, going on further to add how she has many different styles of music for whatever mood she’s experiencing. Gagnon agrees with Lynch, telling how when she’s in a good mood she finds herself lending an ear to more upbeat and fun music, the opposite genre when she’s feeling sad or emotional. “My mood 100% affects the music that I listen to,” she finishes. Brouillard is also on board with these propositions/explanations, listening to things based solely on the status of her mood at the time being.
Nunez brings yet another perspective to the mix, saying that “if I am stressed out because of school or just life in general, my mood definitely lifts when I hear upbeat rhythms and lyrics.” Instead of completely being on board with the girls who listen to specific types of music dependent upon their mood, Nunez feels that the music which is being played around him affects his mood. Even further from this idea, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Grossman finds himself contemplating a different outlook. He feels that “music doesn’t affect personality, but instead that personality affects one's music choice”. He believes that, depending upon the kind of person you are, you will listen to certain sounds or genres.
It seems as if the mystery of the correlation between music and personalities is almost completely impossible to prove false or true. It is a very opinion based area of research and would take many, many interviews to determine a non-biased conclusion. It is evident that different people listen to varying kinds of music, but there are always those who will break the mold of their stereotype and surprise us with their taste. For now, we must continue listening and sharing our own favorite songs and artists if only for the pure fun and entertainment aspect of it all.