Personality and music preferences: the influence of personality traits on preferences regarding musical elements

J Music Ther. 2005 Fall;42(3):216-39. doi: 10.1093/jmt/42.3.216.


The purpose of this scientific study was to determine how personality traits, as classified by Cattell, influence preferences regarding musical elements. The subject group consisted of 145 students, male and female, chosen at random from different Polish universities. For the purpose of determining their personality traits the participants completed the 16PF Questionnaire (Cattell, Saunders, & Stice, 1957; Russel & Karol, 1993), in its Polish adaptation by Choynowski (Nowakowska, 1970). The participants' musical preferences were determined by their completing a Questionnaire of Musical Preferences (specifically created for the purposes of this research), in which respondents indicated their favorite piece of music. Next, on the basis of the Questionnaire of Musical Preferences, a list of the works of music chosen by the participants was compiled. All pieces were collected on CDs and analyzed to separate out their basic musical elements. The statistical analysis shows that some personality traits: Liveliness (Factor F), Social Boldness (Factor H), Vigilance (Factor L), Openness to Change (Factor Q1), Extraversion (a general factor) have an influence on preferences regarding musical elements. Important in the subjects' musical preferences were found to be those musical elements having stimulative value and the ability to regulate the need for stimulation. These are: tempo, rhythm in relation to metrical basis, number of melodic themes, sound voluminosity, and meter.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Behavior
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / methods
  • Music*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires