Psychology

Unintentional Music Sharing

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Science  17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 919
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5763.919a

Might our selves be revealed by our choices in music? Rentfrow and Gosling explored this question by asking 74 college students to provide individual top-10 lists of their favorite songs, which were then recorded onto CDs. The students were also asked to provide self-report ratings on personality measures, such as extraversion and conscientiousness; terminal and instrumental values, such as a comfortable life and ambition; and affect and self-esteem. Eight listeners were then asked to rate the students on the same criteria, solely on the basis of hearing their music selections. The measures for which listener judgments correlated most strongly with the self-report data were the personality trait of openness to experience and the instrumental value of imagination. Furthermore, three other listeners had previously coded the songs for 25 experimentally tested musical attributes (for instance, the amount of singing), and these characteristics also displayed correlations with openness and imagination (along with several other traits and values). The results show a differentiating and consistent linkage between our musical tastes and the impressions of us that strangers form purely from learning which songs we like. — GJC

Psychol. Sci. 17, 236 (2006).

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