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What do our music tastes say about our personality?

It is well-known that music taste says something about individual personalities and that it can affect their social relations (Crozier, 1997).

Already more than 50 years ago, Catell and Saunders (1954) wrote an article in which they claimed that individual taste in music says something about personality. Later Payne (1980) presented results, which indicate that introverted people prefer music with more formal structures, while more extrovert people prefer music that conveys more emotion. Similar results have also been presented by Daoussis & McKelvie (1986). They found that extroverted people had stronger preference for rock than individuals with introverted personalities, and this was especially evident when it came to hard rock.

This could indicate that the type of music played on a commercial marketplace will appeal to different types of personalities. This also means that companies can influence consumers’ perceptions of the marketplace and the brand with the music played. A problem in this context it is difficult to determine whether individuals are listening to a particular type of music because of their personality, or if they do it to fit into a social context. Rentfrow & Gosling (2003, 2006) confirm the results that individuals’ personalities are correlated with the music they listen to. But they also show that individuals use music to present a picture of themselves and to create other individuals’ perceptions. They also show that music is a central and important part of people’s lives and that it is consumed in a variety of contexts.

Research concludes that:

(1) People seek out different styles of music only based on how appealing those styles sound.

(2) People look for music that is different regarding agitation or arousal. For example, calm and introverted people prefer quieter genres to help them stay calm.

(3) Individuals can use music to convey an image of themselves. Intellectual people may listen to complex music to convey an image of refinement and sophistication.

Commercial marketplaces use music in many different ways: (1) As a method to influence consumers. This is usually done in such a subtle way that customers later cannot remember the music. Slow background music that customers don’t remember, can still influence their behavior.

(2) As a deliberate way to communicate what the company stands for and to create a stronger relationship with customers.


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