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Unformatted text preview: PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES The Do Re Mi’s of Everyday Life: The Structure and Personality Correlates of Music Preferences Peter J. Rentfrow and Samuel D. Gosling University of Texas at Austin The present research examined individual differences in music preferences. A series of 6 studies investigated lay beliefs about music, the structure underlying music preferences, and the links between music preferences and personality. The data indicated that people consider music an important aspect of their lives and listening to music an activity they engaged in frequently. Using multiple samples, methods, and geographic regions, analyses of the music preferences of over 3,500 individuals converged to reveal 4 music-preference dimensions: Reflective and Complex, Intense and Rebellious, Upbeat and Conventional, and Energetic and Rhythmic. Preferences for these music dimensions were related to a wide array of personality dimensions (e.g., Openness), self-views (e.g., political orientation), and cognitive abilities (e.g., verbal IQ). At this very moment, in homes, offices, cars, restaurants, and clubs around the world, people are listening to music. Despite its prevalence in everyday life, however, the sound of music has remained mute within social and personality psychology. Indeed, of the nearly 11,000 articles published between 1965 and 2002 in the leading social and personality journals, music was listed as an index term (or subject heading) in only seven articles. The eminent personality psychologist Raymond Cattell even remarked on the bewildering absence of research on music, “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). Although a growing body of research has identified links be- tween music and social behavior (Hargreaves & North, 1997; North, Hargreaves, & McKendrick, 1997, 2000), the bulk of stud- ies have been performed by a relatively small cadre of music educators and music psychologists. We believe that an activity that consumes so much time and resources and that is a key component of so many social situations warrants the attention of mainstream social and personality psychologists. In the present article we begin to redress the historical neglect of music by exploring the landscape of music preferences. The fundamental question guiding our research program is, Why do people listen to music? Although the answer to this question is undoubtedly complex and beyond the scope of a single article, we attempt to shed some light on the issue by examining music preferences. In this research we take the first crucial steps to developing a theory of music preferences—a theory that will ultimately explain when, where, how, and why people listen to music....
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