Music and personality


On the last day of the Summer Course “APPROACHES AND METHODS IN MUSIC COGNITION & PERCEPTION”, Birgitta Burger and Emily Carlson presented on their research on dance and synchronization, as well as music, dance, and personality. This session definitely caught my attention and curiosity. When Emily talked about the individual differences in personality traits with music preference and dance, I was intrigued. It was interesting to see how some personality traits in the Big Five Inventory could be distinguished to be related to a certain music preference, or certain form of dance. For example, the music that was related to ‘Openness’ in the Big Five Inventory was classical, jazz, and the blues, while for ‘Extraversion’, it was rap, soul, and dance. Although it can be argued that not everyone may follow the similar pattern since it is a matter of personality, but correlations could be drawn through research.

music personalitymusic type

Being presented with these results on personality and music, I wanted to look for further research on this topic. Surely enough, I found other studies done on this topic that caught my interest. There were some studies that I found which also support such distinction between personality and music, for example in a study by Liljeström and his colleagues (2013), they claim that listeners who are high on the trait ‘Openness’ reported to have experienced more intense emotions than the listeners who scored lower. With this result, they suggest that ‘Openness to experience’ may play a unique role in personal aesthetic experience with art and music. In another study on music performance and personality, Kawase (2016) claims that the participating music majors’ Extraversion, Openness, and Agreeableness was correlated with the ensemble performance aptitude. So not only as listeners and consumers, but also as producers of music, personality may be an important influential factor.

Overall, the last day was personally very intriguing and productive. In addition to the studies mentioned above, there were also research on brain’s neural response to emotions expressed in music, modulated by personality traits (Park et al., 2013), as well as other papers on individual personality and music in coping trauma (Garrido et al., 2015). Thanks to the mind-grabbing presentations by Emily Carlson and Birgitta Burger, I was motivated to learn more about their topic, and found out how large it can grow in various directions. It also led me to casually take the personality test after reading an article about personality and music preference in the 16Personalities website (article link in the reference). If you are also interested, take the test here and see if it’s true!




Garrido, S., Baker, F. A., Davidson, J. W., Moore, G., & Wasserman, S. (2015). Music and trauma: the relationship between music, personality, and coping style. Frontiers in psychology, 6.

Kawase, S. (2016). Associations among music majors’ personality traits, empathy, and aptitude for ensemble performance. Psychology of Music, 44(2), 293-302.

Liljeström, S., Juslin, P. N., & Västfjäll, D. (2013). Experimental evidence of the roles of music choice, social context, and listener personality in emotional reactions to music. Psychology of Music, 41(5), 579-599.

Park, M., Hennig-Fast, K., Bao, Y., Carl, P., Pöppel, E., Welker, L., … & Gutyrchik, E. (2013). Personality traits modulate neural responses to emotions expressed in music. Brain research, 1523, 68-76.

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