How Your Choice Of Music Tells About Your Personality

How Your Choice Of Music Tells About Your Personality

By Opinions | The Trent on January 16, 2014
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Lauryn Hill performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Saturday, May 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

by Echezonachukwu Nduka

As expected by virtually everyone, the long awaited New Year is here with us and as a matter of fact, this is my first article in 2014. In any case, it is more like a New Year message. I have no reasons to doubt that a good number of us had enough time to relax, enjoy ourselves and attend several events in the just concluded Christmas and New Year celebrations. In all the numerous events you attended, have you wondered how they would have been if there were no music played at all? Be it live band performance or not? Have you thought about that? Personally, I don’t know the possibility of gathering people for festivity without making arrangements for music. Perhaps it’s possible, but I sincerely don’t know about that. Or maybe I’m yet to witness one. In order not to be found guilty of postulating fallacy of hasty generalization, let me not categorically state here that music is loved and appreciated by everyone, non humans inclusive. But then, what manner of person detests music?

As people who have grown to meet several kinds of music performances basically as a result of socio-cultural influences, we have since indulged in this art for reasons best known to us. Of course, music plays different roles to different people at different points in time. But considering the fact that music wields enormous influence on people from emotion regulation to cognitive development, have you taken a little time to ponder on the influence of your favorite music on you? This is very necessary because the kind of music you enjoy most and virtually play all the time has a way of influencing your mood and shaping your personality. For instance, many people will be familiar with the generalization that Reggae music is enjoyed mostly by weed smokers and Rastafarians. Although this postulation holds some elements of truth, it is not wholly acceptable because there are exceptions. But then, why did people come up with that generalization? The reason is because apart from the music played by the musician, the musician as a person also influences the fans to an extent. This explains why some fans often yearn to dress, talk, and walk and even think like their best musicians. Since well known Reggae artists like Bob Marley, Lucky Dube et al are known for their indulgence in weed (Ganja) smoking, keeping of hair which naturally forms long dreadlocks, Rastafarianism and all what not, would you be surprised to see a Reggae fan exhibit the same character traits? Although not all fans of this genre would want to get overly influenced, a good number would find reasons to indulge.

JLS Concert

This discourse has a strong link with psychology and anthropology as they both engage in the study of human mind and character development. Most recently, I developed interest in music psychology and started reading some informative and expository research essays by some psychologists.  Research conducted by psychologists Jason Renfrow and Sam Gosling suggests that knowing the type of music you listen to can actually lead to surprisingly accurate prediction about your personality. This could mean that when someone checks the music playlist in your iPod, computer or any other device, the most played genre of music there may suggest your personality and temperament to an extent. Following their research results, they found out that extroverts tend to seek out songs with heavy bass lines, while those who enjoy more complex styles such as jazz and classical music tend to be more creative and have higher IQ-scores. While pop music lovers are hardworking and have high self esteem, these researchers suggest that they tend to be less creative and uneasy.

Furthermore, their research findings also show that rap music lovers are more aggressive, violent and have high self esteem. Also, blues and soul music lovers have the propensity of being extroverts with high self esteem and intelligence. Well, inasmuch as these postulations are not established facts, there are elements of truth in them. Albeit, we cannot swallow the results of these research results hook, line and sinker. The reason is not farfetched. Following their postulations, one might be tempted to believe that pop music lovers may tend to be less creative because they neither enjoy jazz music nor appreciate the melodic beauty of Beethoven’s or Mozart’s symphonies or value the pomp and pageantry of Handel’s choruses. But there are pop music lovers and even artistes themselves who are brilliant and creative.

Now, knowing full well that your best genre of music can influence your personality, what genre of music do you enjoy often? Does it suit the person you are or the person you want to be? Do you want to make a change or would you want to try other genres to see how they influence your personality? The year is still fresh and the choice is yours. Happy New Year!

Echezonachukwu Nduka is a Nigerian musicologist, poet, fiction writer and journalist. He currently lectures at the Department of Music in Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri, Imo, Nigeria. He tweets at @nduka_echenduka.

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