We’re drawn to musicians with similar personalities to ours, study claims

As it turns out, our love for musicians has little to do with their output, and everything to do with ourselves. 

 

 

According to a new study on what researchers are calling the “self-congruity effect of music”, we tend to gravitate toward musical artists who exude a public persona that mirrors their own personality traits.

Published on July 2 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the large-scale, three-part study was performed by an international team of psychologists and led by David Greenberg of Bar-Ilan University. They recruited over 86,000 participants to test their hypothesis: a musician’s public persona influences listeners’ preferences.

The participants responded to the lyrics and persona ratings of 50 of the biggest names in music, including Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Whitney Houston, and musical groups like Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, and The Rolling Stones.

Both the first study (N = 6,279) and the second study (N = 75,296) demonstrated that the public personality of a musical artist tends to correlate with the personality of the listeners. The third study (= 4,995) built upon the findings of the first and second studies “showing that the fit between the personality of the listener and the artist predicts musical preferences incremental to the fit for gender, age, and even the audio features of music.”

It has been gleaned from the results that musical artists’ public personas may play a more significant role in attracting loyal fans than previously believed. 

“Across three studies, we show that people prefer the music of artists who have publicly observable personalities (‘personas’) similar to their own personality traits.” explained the authors.

 

It has been gleaned from the results that musical artists’ public personas may play a more significant role in attracting loyal fans than previously believed. 

 

In a news release, the authors were compelled to make clear that “the perceived personality or public ‘persona’ of the musicians were measured—not their actual personalities.” 

This research further puts the social power of music in the spotlight. “In today’s world, where social divisions are increasing, our studies are showing us how music can be a common denominator to bring people together,” Greenberg said in the news release.

The study also shines a light on how identifying with the personality traits of a musician who feels like a kindred spirit can have a positive psychological effect on the listener. “The findings can be applied to situations involving mental health,” co-author Andrew Schwartz of Stony Brook University noted. “For example, in times of stress and uncertainty, listeners can seek music of artists with similar personalities to themselves and feel understood and a sense of connectedness.”

 

 

 

 

Share via