Music preferences reveal your inner thoughts

From ABC Science, 23 July 2015:

Jeff Buckley or Rage Against The Machine? Your music preferences reveal a lot about how you think.

There is a clear link between people’s cognitive styles and the type and depth of emotion they prefer in music, say researchers.

Their work, published today in PLOS ONE, shows people who are more empathetic — have a greater ability to identify, predict and respond to the emotions of others — are drawn to more mellow, sad, poetic and sensual music, such as R&B, adult contemporary and soft rock.

However people with more analytical tendencies (called ‘systemisers’) go in the opposite direction, seeking punk, heavy metal, avant garde jazz and hard rock.

“Systemising … is this drive to look at patterns and deconstruct and analyse the rules in the world,” says lead author David Greenberg, psychology PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge.

“So if you’re looking at a mountain, you’re curious about how the mountain is formed and how it’s developed over a period of time, [while] an empathiser may focus more on the aesthetics of it or the feeling of awe.”

The study emerged from an ongoing effort to understand why people like the music they do; why some people love the music of Joni Mitchell while others can’t stand it. Read more.

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