Academic journal article Psychomusicology

The Association between Types of Music Enjoyed and Cognitive, Behavioral, and Personality Factors of Those Who Listen

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

The Association between Types of Music Enjoyed and Cognitive, Behavioral, and Personality Factors of Those Who Listen

Article excerpt

A community sample of 358 individuals completed questionnaires that assessed preference for 30 different styles of music, a number of demographic variables, involvement with singing or playing an instrument and a number of personal variables including: intelligence, spirituality, self esteem, social skills, locus of control, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, openness, emotional stability, hostility, and depression. Factor analysis of the 30 music styles resulted in 8 factors: Rebellious (e.g., punk, grunge, heavy metal), Classical, Rhythmic & Intense (e.g., hip-hop & rap, pop, rhythm & blues). Easy Listening, Fringe (e.g., electronic, ambient, techno), Contemporary Christian, Jazz & Blues, and Traditional Christian. A series of correlations, partial correlations and regression analyses reveal an almost comprehensively negative personal profile for those who listen to the Rebellious and Rhythmic & Intense categories of music. Results further produce an almost comprehensively positive profile for those who listen to Classical music. Useful insight is also provided on the traditional versus contemporary Christian music controversy. Results are discussed and suggestions for future research provided.

Rentfrow and Gosling (2003) conducted an extensive study of the importance of music, the settings where music is most frequently experienced, groupings of different styles of music, and correlates with a variety of cognitive, personality, demographic, and situational variables. They express surprise that so little research has explored the link between music and human experience and reveal that of 11,000 journal articles published (in personality and social psychology journals) between 1965 and 2002, only seven had "music" listed as an index term. They further quote Raymond Cattell who states "So powerful is the effect of music... that one is surprised to find in the history of psychology and psychotherapy so little experimental, or even speculative, reference to the use of music" (Cattell & Saunders, 1954, p. 3).

Rentfrow and Gosling's (2003) efforts begin by establishing the importance of music. With a sample of 74 undergraduates they found that of eight popular leisure activities (music, movies, books/magazines, TV, food, sleeping, hobbies, shopping) music ranks as the most important. They further discovered that the majority of people enjoy music while performing many different activities such as relaxing at home, driving, studying, working, hanging out with friends, exercising, and others.

The purpose of the present study is to replicate portions of the Rentfrow and Gosling (2003) study with a community (rather than undergraduate) sample and to explore additional questions raised by their research. Specifics follow:

1. Rentfrow and Gosling factor analyzed 14 different styles of music into four different categories based on subjects' enjoyment of each style; however, the present study starts with 30 different styles of music and factor analyzes based on listener preference and the amount of time spent in volitional listening.

2. A number of personal constructs used by Rentfrow and Gosling also are employed in the present study, including intelligence, self esteem, depression, level of wealth, and personality constructs from The Big 5 Personality Inventory.

3. The present study also includes measures for spirituality, social skills, locus of control and hostility.

4. Multiple regression analyses and partial correlations are used to further uncover associations among variables.

5. Measures of musical participation are included that assess whether or not the subject sings or plays an instrument, how well they sing or play and how much time they spend practicing.

The present study is largely exploratory and formal hypotheses are not offered. It is anticipated that findings of former studies will be substantiated, but the literature is still quite thin and there is not a strong rationale for inclusion of hypotheses. …

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