Tag Archives: Hans Eysenck

Music Preferences Indicate Personality Traits

Besides individual aesthetic preferences, people may prefer musical genres to “regulate” mood or express self-image.

-*Does personality style shape musical preferences?
-*Does preferred music affect personality?

Peter Jason Rentfrow

Peter Jason Rentfrow

University of Cambridge’s Peter Jason Rentfrow and Samuel Gosling uncovered four music-preference dimensions when they analyzed music preferences of more than 3,500 individuals in six studies:

  • Reflective and Complex
  • Intense and Rebellious
  • Upbeat and Conventional
  • Energetic and Rhythmic

These music-preference categories were related to cognitive abilities like verbal IQ and attitudes like political orientation in addition to Big Five personality dimensions.

In other studies, Rentfrow and Gosling found that musical preference accurately predicted Big Five personality traits including “Openness to Experience”, Extraversion, and Emotional Stability among strangers when they asked same-sex and opposite-sex volunteers with an average age of 18  to “get to know each other” over 6 weeks.

Rentfrow and Gosling found significant correlations between musical genre preferences and Big Five personality characteristics:

  • Blues: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease
  • Jazz: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, at ease, intellectual
  • Classical: High self-esteem, creative, introvert, at ease
  • Rap: High self-esteem, outgoing
  • Opera: High, gentle self-esteem, creative
  • Country and Western: Hardworking, outgoing, emotionally stable
  • Reggae: High self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle, at ease
  • Dance: Creative, outgoing, not gentle
  • Indie: Low self-esteem, creative, not hard working, not gentle
  • Bollywood: Creative, outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal: Low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, gentle, at ease, not outgoing,
  • Chart Pop: High self-esteem, hardworking, outgoing, gentle, not creative, not at ease
  • Soul: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease
  • Vocals: Extraverted
Marvin Zuckerman

Marvin Zuckerman

Additional support for the relationship between music preference and personality characteristics came from University of Melbourne’s David Rawlings and Vera Ciancarelli in their study correlating responses on University of Delaware’s Patrick Little and Marvin Zuckerman‘s Music Preference Scale and the NEO Personality Inventory (Revised).

Individuals who scored high on extraversion and women tended to prefer
“Popular Music
” and those who scored high on “Openness to Experience” showed strong “Breadth of Musical Preference.”

This study related “sensation seeking” to musical preferences and confirmed speculation that people who seek greater levels of environmental stimulation through auditory, visual, gustatory, and other experiences tend to like complex, intense music.

High scorers on Sensation Seeking Scale form V preferred Rock music and but not Soundtrack music and those who scored high on Thrill and Adventure Seeking subscale and Experience Seeking subscale liked Folk and Classical music in addition to Rock music.
As might be expected, participants who scored high on the Disinhibition subscale liked Rock but not Religious or Soundtrack music.

Hans Eysenck

Hans Eysenck

“Extraversion” has been related to “sensation seeking” in Hans Eysenck’s seminal research.
Southern Illinois University’s Stephen J. Dollinger demonstrated that people who report behaviors and traits associated with extraversion tend to prefer Jazz, which has “high arousal properties” and those who endorse “excitement seeking” behaviors said they prefer Hard Rock music.

Stephen Dollinger

Stephen Dollinger

These generalizations may change as people age, so Nazarene University College’s Kelley Schwartz and Gregory Fouts of University of Calgary examined 164 adolescents’ music preferences in relation to personality dimensions and developmental issues.

Gregory Fouts

Gregory Fouts

Those who preferred music with “heavy” or “light” qualities reported personality and developmental difficulties, but those who preferred “eclectic” music reported no personality or developmental concerns.

Schwartz and Fouts concluded that adolescents prefer music that reflects personality characteristics and developmental challenges, supporting Renfrow and Gosling’s caveat that results for adult musical preferences may not reflect the same personality characteristics among people in other age groups.

Taken together, these findings on personality trends related to musical preferences among adolescents and adults suggest that when people master specific developmental issues, music relevant to those challenges may no longer be appealing, and preferences may change.

-*To what extent do you prefer music that “regulates” your mood and productivity?

-*How accurately can you infer people’s personality traits from their musical preferences?

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Introversion and Extraversion Starts with Your Genes and Shows in Your Brain

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Introverts seem to be experiencing an increasingly “level playing field” in work and social environments after Susan Cain’s best-selling book celebrating “the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”

Hans Eysenck

Hans Eysenck

University of London’s Hans Eysenck provided one of the first physiological explanations of this duality after Carl Jung’s introduction to “psychological types.”

The subjective experience of introversion and extraversion is measured by the Big Five personality dimensions, developed by Robert McRae and Paul Costa, then of the National Institutes of Health, in addition to the widely-used yet psychometrically-criticized Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. 

Eysenck's Three-Factor Theory of Personality

Eysenck’s Three-Factor Theory of Personality

Observable behaviors associated with extraversion include positive emotions, assertiveness, sociability and talkativeness with energetic engagement in work and social contexts.

In contrast, external manifestations of introversion are lower social engagement and energy, and less need for external social stimulation than extraverts, with a quieter, more deliberate style.

Robert McCrae

Robert McCrae

These behaviors are at least partially based on individuals’ genetic profiles, leading to differing brain activity associated with introverted and extraverted thinking and behavior.

Paul Costa

Paul Costa

Eysenck posited that extraverts and introverts differ in their levels of cortical arousal:  Introverts, he suggested, have a higher baseline level of arousal than extraverts, so need less external stimulation.

In contrast, he hypothesized that extraverts seek external stimulation because they have a lower baseline level of cortical arousal.

Yasuyuki Taki

Yasuyuki Taki

Differences in brain structure and function among introverts and extraverts was analyzed by Yasuyuki Taki’s team at Tohoku University, including collaborators  Benjamin Thyreau, Shigeo Kinomura, Kazunori Sato, Ryoi Goto, Kai Wu, Ryuta Kawashima, and Hiroshi Fukuda. 

The evaluated whether personality traits measured on a revised Big Five inventory (Revised NEO Personality Inventory – NEO-PI-R) were related cortical gray matter volume, measured by brain magnetic resonance images (MRI) for more than 270 healthy volunteers over 6 years.

Colin DeYoung

Colin DeYoung

Likewise, University of Minnesota’s Colin DeYoung, Jacob Hirsh of University of Toronto, The Mind Research Institute’s Matthew Shane, and Yale’s Xenophon Papademetris, Nallakkandi  Rajeevan, and Jeremy Gray used a similar method to conclude that behavioral and subjective extraversion was positively correlated with orbitofrontal cortex metabolism and increased cerebral volume of the medial orbitofrontal cortex in 116 adults. 

Michael X. Cohen

Michael X. Cohen

Extraversion has been correlated with sensitivity to rewards and to the brain’s dopamine system, so University of Amsterdam’s Michael X. Cohen and team investigated the brain’s dopamine-based reward system.

He collaborated with Jennifer Young, Jong-Min Baek, Christopher Kessler, and Charan Ranganath of University of California, Davis to demonstrate the connection among trait extraversion, the A1 allele on the dopamine D2 receptor gene, and “extraverted” activity in the brain’s reward system during a gambling task.

Charan Ranganath

Charan Ranganath

Participants received rewards either immediately following a behavioral response or after a 7.5 second “anticipation” interval.
The research team monitored differing fMRI brain activity in the amygdala, which processes emotional stimuli and triggers excitement, and in the nucleus accumbens, which pushes people to seek rewards, novelty and risks.

Brain activation patterns were related to individual differences in extraversion and presence of the A1 allele on the dopamine D2 receptor gene.
Neural pathways differed for extraverts and introverts, validating anecdotal observations that these personality styles are distinctly different, even deep inside the brain and genes.

Many introverts adopt extraverted behaviors in work and social situations, and a remaining question is how fMRI patterns differ for introverts displaying uncharacteristic extraverted behaviors in contrast to people with trait extraversion.

-*How easily can you adopt your non-dominant personality style when you need to display introversion or extraversion behaviors?

-*What tactics enable you to adopt your less-preferred personality style?

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