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What Your Musical Taste Says About How You Think

What Your Musical Taste Says About How You Think post image

Four favourite songs which reveal you have an empathic thinking style.

The type of music you like can provide an insight into the way you think, new research finds.

People who like more mellow, unpretentious music, like the following tracks, are more likely to be empathisers:

  • Hallelujah — Jeff Buckley
  • Come away with me — Norah Jones
  • All of me — Billie Holliday
  • Crazy little thing called love — Queen

Empathisers are more people-oriented and focus on the emotions of others.

Typical occupations for empathisers might be a psychologist or carer.

In contrast, people who like more intense forms of music, like the following tracks, tend to be ‘systematisers’:

  • Concerto in C — Antonio Vivaldi
  • Etude Opus 65 No 3 — Alexander Scriabin
  • God save the Queen — The Sex Pistols
  • Enter the Sandman — Metallica

Systematisers like to look for rules and patterns in the world and have less interest in the emotions.

Typical occupations for systematisers might be engineer or mathematician.

If you like tracks from both the lists, then your personality likely has a balance of empathising and systematising components.

Mr David Greenberg, who led the study, said:

“Although people’s music choices fluctuates over time, we’ve discovered a person’s empathy levels and thinking style predicts what kind of music they like.

In fact, their cognitive style — whether they’re strong on empathy or strong on systems — can be a better predictor of what music they like than their personality.”

The results come from a survey of over 4,000 people.

Empathisers tended to prefer more mellow and unpretentious music, psychologists found.

Systematisers, though, generally preferred more intense forms of music.

Dr Jason Rentfrow, one of the study’s authors, said:

“This line of research highlights how music is a mirror of the self. Music is an expression of who we are emotionally, socially, and cognitively.”

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, another of the study’s authors and expert on autism, said:

“This new study is a fascinating extension to the ’empathizing-systemizing’ theory of psychological individual differences.

The research may help us understand those at the extremes, such as people with autism, who are strong systemizers.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Greenberg et al., 2015).

Image credit: FrogArt



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