"We can learn a lot about personality by looking at everyday life, and music preference is just one facet of everyday life," says Jason Rentfrow, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin who co-authored the study with his adviser, psychologist Samuel Gosling, PhD.
Rentfrow and Gosling collected data on the music preferences of several thousand undergraduates at The University of Texas using a new scale--the Short Test of Music Preferences (STOMP). They also analyzed the music collections of people who use Internet file-sharing services.
In both samples, music preferences tended to clump into one of four categories, which Rentfrow and Gosling dubbed "reflective and complex," "intense and rebellious," "upbeat and conventional" and "energetic and rhythmic." Each category included several kinds of music. "Reflective and complex," for example, covered classical, jazz, blues and folk, while "upbeat and conventional" covered country, religious, soundtrack and pop.
People who listen to "reflective and complex" music, for example, score highly on openness to new experiences, verbal ability, self-perceived intelligence and political liberalism, while people who listen to "upbeat and conventional" music score highly on extraversion, self-perceived physical attractiveness, athleticism and political conservatism.
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