Friday, April 27, 2007

You young'uns don't know who you are!

I wrote previously about research on the correlations between personality and music preference. A new study by Jeremy Dean, et al has some interesting results. The participants filled out a personality questionnaire which measured their strength in five personality factors: extraversion, openness to experience, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. These participants also took the Short Test of Musical Preferences (STOMP). STOMP is basically the same as the online test I linked to, except STOMP has only 14 music categories, whereas the online version adds Bluegrass, New Age, International, Reggae, Gospel, Opera, Oldies, Punk, and separates Funk from Soul/R&B. STOMP gives a result in four music preference dimensions: Reflective & Complex (Classical, Blues, Folk, and Jazz), Intense & Rebellious (Alternative, Rock, and Heavy Metal), Upbeat & Conventional (Country, Religious, Pop, and Soundtracks), and Energetic & Rhythmic (Dance/Electronica, Rap/hip-hop, and Soul/funk). I don't see the point in these dimensions if there isn't acknowledged overlap of genres. Pick dimensions that each genre has different strengths (averaged), so a true multidimensional picture can be developed. Ahem!

Dean, Yu & Epps broke the participants into two groups by age: 18-30 years, and over 30 years. The younger group had only two correlations between music preference dimensions and personality traits: openness to experience correlated with Reflective & Complex (r = .4) and with Intense & Rebellious (r = .19). The older group had four correlations: the two from the younger group plus conscientiousness correlated with Upbeat & Conventional (r = .29) and agreeableness also correlated with Upbeat & Conventional (r = .31). They interpret these results as an indication that younger listeners have not settled in their social identities, which affects their musical preferences.

Do you think personality traits should be compared with genre preferences, or preferences based on more abstract musical traits like timbre, tempo, or loudness? I'd be very interested to see results based on the latter, since genres are not monolithic.



Anonymous said...

"Soundtracks/Theme Songs" is a pretty ridiculous category. First off, in Soundtracks, are they including cast recordings? If so, I think that they'll have trouble integrating the people who like "Hairspray" with the people who like "Sweeney Todd," with the people who like "Showboat," with the people who like "Rent," with the people who like "Hello Dolly," et cetera.

Secondly, if they're not including cast recordings, they ought to note that my favorite soundtracks include The Rock, Tomorrow Never Dies, Tarzan, Star Wars, Psycho, and Fame. How are they supposed to integrate these?

In classical, are they grouping the Wagner fans with the Ravel fans? Are they grouping Joni Mitchell with Woody Guthrie? Wynton Marsalis with jazz fusion? Britney Spears with Phil Collins? Beastie Boys with Fifty Cent? Kate Bush with The Beatles?

It seems to me that the people who design these know very little about music or musical tastes.

David said...

Hi Scott,

I Think you will find the following recordings (online) interesting, too.
David Polk
WFMT Chicago

For Immediate Release:
April 27, 2007

98.7WFMT Pays Tribute to Cellist, Conductor Mstislav Rostropovich

Listener Memories, Recordings and Rare Interviews Pre-empt Regular Music Schedule

Chicago, IL -- 98.7WFMT, Chicago's Classical Experience, is paying tribute to Russian musician and human rights activist Mstislav Rostropovich who died this morning in Moscow. Today, Friday April 27, and tomorrow morning, Saturday April 28, the station is airing recordings from its archives of Rostropovich cello performances and conducting various orchestras around the world. In addition, the station is airing voicemails and reading emails from listeners recounting memories of the world-renowned musician, who visited Chicago many times during his lifetime. Rare interviews have also been posted on

The special tribute pre-empts previously scheduled musical programming.

"Today represents a major loss for the classical music world" said WFMT Program Director Peter Whorf, "and it's only appropriate that we use our archives to pay tribute." On his blog, Whorf posted a rare audio clip of composer Dmitri Shostakovich speaking of his friend Rostropovich as well as a recent interview producer Jon Tolansky conducted with him in 2002.

One Internet listener remarked via email that "the great significance of Mstislav Rostropovich to the music world and the world in general is tremendous. As you played his recording of what he played at the [collapse of the] Berlin Wall, I was deeply touched. Your efforts all morning to honor this great person is just one more reason what we love your station.

"Thanks so much for all you do daily to enrich our lives."

More information about 98.7WFMT and 98.7WFMT Streaming is available at

About 98.7WFMT
98.7WFMT, Chicago's Classical Experience, provides the best and broadest selection of classical music and fine arts programming heard in the country. A broadcasting force for more than 55 years, the station's appeal continues to widen. 98.7WFMT is currently serving the largest audience in its history.
Holly H. Gilson
98.7WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network
(773) 509-5424