We all know that the music you listen to reflects your personality to some extent, but new scientific research has shown that your music playlist actually says a lot more about you than can simply be defined as subculture or genre.

Psychologists have found that the type of music you listen to can reveal some aspects of your personality and mental state. The study was done by researchers from Cambridge University and was conducted through online surveys completed by 4000 people.

As a result, it was found that most people were either systemisers or empathisers. In simple words, systemisers are logical thinkers and empathisers are emotional feelers.

Now, how do you know which category you fall into? You can ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. When you listen to music, do you often find yourself listening to the lyrics?
  2. Do you specifically listen to music for the lyrical content and themes?
  3. When watching charity advertisements on TV, do you often find yourself moved by them?

If your answer was ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you are likely more of an empathetic person. Being an empathetic personality type means that you sometimes feel that you can actually comprehend exactly what another being is going through.

Whereas being a systematic personality type means that you can imagine what another being is feeling due to your insight and mental capacity, but it does not feel like you are sharing their emotions directly.

Now, how is this translated into your favourite type of music? Have a look at the compositions listed below to see if you can relate to being a systemiser or an empathiser:

Music Associated with Empathy

Empathisers tend to favour songs that are gentle and relaxing to listen to and allow for a reflective, low arousal mood. Songs like this usually have emotional lyrics and themes with depth. Empathisers generally lean towards soft rock, easy listening, and adult contemporary music. Here are a few examples:

Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

Come Away With Me – Norah Jones

All of Me – Billie Holiday

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

Music Associated with Systemising

Systemisers prefer high-energy music with thrilling or strong beats, such as punk, heavy metal or hard rock music, but also includes classical music. Below are a few examples of artists and songs associated with systemising:

Concerto in C – Antonio Vivaldi

Etude Opus 65 No 3 — Alexander Scriabin

God Save the Queen – The Sex Pistols

Enter the Sandman – Metallica

What other factors determine your music preferences

Empathisers are more emotional, caring, and sympathetic people, whereas systemisers are more logical, analytical, and objective. Naturally, a lot of people will not feel that they can strictly be put into either one category and might like songs from both lists given above.

Although psychological theories for personality types often try to put people into restricted categories, it can be said that personality is better measured on a spectrum rather than a strict box. Thus, even though you do not feel that you are strictly systematic or empathetic, you can still relate to one more than the other in general.

The music we listen to is often determined by the mood we are in or by the current circumstances. This could mean that on a day that you are feeling low you will prefer more relaxed music – maybe on such days, you are more empathetic.

Some people like listening to classical music while studying and, considering that there are two classical music pieces on the systematics list, it would make sense that when you want to get into study mode you listen to more logical and analytic music. If one looks at it this way, it can also be suggested that you can listen to certain types of music to develop certain parts of your brain and personality.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to music preference is also a person’s culture, race, religion, country, social class, age and gender. All of these aspects influence one’s personality as well as their musical interest.

In any case, the idea of being able to determine a person’s personality with a test is fun and could give you some insights into yourself and others too.

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