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Personality Secrets in Your MP3 Player 326

Jeremy Dean writes "Once past saying 'hello' and 'how are you?' to someone you've just met, what is next? How do we make friends and get to know other people? Psychologists have talked about the importance of body language, physical appearance and clothing but they've not been so keen on what we actually talk about. A recent study put participants in same-sex and opposite-sex pairings and told them to get to know each other over 6 weeks (Rentfrow & Gosling, 2006). Analysing the results, they found the most popular topic of conversation was music. What is it about music that's so useful when we first meet someone and what kind of information can we extract from the music another person likes? "
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Personality Secrets in Your MP3 Player

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:22PM (#17891494)

    Likes country: emotionally stable
    In the U.K., maybe. Try doing the same survey in Oklahoma. Or, the local truck stop.
  • I know thats one of the first things I ask when I meet new people...unless it's a work environment...but 9/10 when I ask I am greeted with a response that makes me say "eeewww" to myself...and then when I have to explain the kind of music I like I usually have trouble relating that to them...but you can usually tell who you can avoid by their (usually horrible) taste in music.
    • Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swid27 ( 869237 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:35PM (#17891746) Homepage

      Well, that's probably (another) reason that I manage to have a hard time creating memorable "hooks" with other people; I have practically no interest in keeping up with or finding new music. (It isn't that I don't enjoy nearly all forms of music, mind you, it's just that, for me, there's approximately zero value in seeking out new things to listen to.)

      On a related note, the common geek tendency to disparage everyone who doesn't have the same eXtreMely obscure/not-yet-trendy/running counter to current popular opinion taste in music as he/she does is very lamentable. Seriously, most people don't use their taste in music to define themselves, so judging people on that is very narrow-minded.

      • by Skadet ( 528657 )

        On a related note, the common geek tendency to disparage everyone who doesn't have the same eXtreMely obscure/not-yet-trendy/running counter to current popular opinion taste in music as he/she does is very lamentable. Seriously, most people don't use their taste in music to define themselves, so judging people on that is very narrow-minded.

        Agreed. This is why ask questions about likes: "So, what do you think of Brand New's new album?" or, "Are you a fan of Fall Out Boy?". Sometimes I'll work in a band refe

      • Re:Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by radtea ( 464814 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:20PM (#17894448)
        Seriously, most people don't use their taste in music to define themselves, so judging people on that is very narrow-minded.

        The article is about 18 year olds, many of whom do define themselves through their musical tastes. They are of necessity narrow and shallow--they have rarely killed or fought for their life, rarely had lovers or children or freinds die, rarely risked everything to achieve a dream. They haven't had time to do anything with their lives yet. And in the West there are few tribal institutions for them to attach their loyalty to: family is thankfully not very important, religion ditto, and while a few get latched onto sports teams of one kind or another the crass commercialism of popular sport is such that a tribal affilliation with a team is too lame even for the average teenager.

        To be useful as a source of the tribal feeling that all humans crave a thing must be public and communal. What is more public and communal than music? One day the teens will grow up and find a tribe of their own that is based on genuine common interests, if they're lucky. But until then they will find solace in being part of a tribe defined by the music they listen to.

        This is why so many bands are decried by their early followers as "sell outs" when they become popular. It is not the kind of music they are making that has changed, but the dillution of tribal feeling, of belonging, of being part of a select and special group, that causes the psychological pain.
  • Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:23PM (#17891520) Homepage is supposed toc ome from the artists soul. Music explains an artists point of view on subjects.

    If you and I like the same artists, chances are relatively high we hold the same views.

    Not to mention when I'm blasting Emperor or Dimmu Borgir or Dying Fetus, you won't ask me to put on some Kenny G.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      No, but I may ask for some Dave Brubeck, or mayhaps the Berzerker. Anyone trying to analyze my personality through my music tastes could only come to two conclusions: Schizophrenic or Elitist Snob. I'm not sure whether either of them are wrong :)
      • Re:Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:35PM (#17891752) Homepage

        Anyone trying to analyze my personality through my music tastes could only come to two conclusions: Schizophrenic or Elitist Snob. I'm not sure whether either of them are wrong :)
        EXACTLY. See, I may be into extreme metal, but I will never say I don't like something because it "isn't metal enough" However, I have met NUMEROUS people who would make that exact statement. It's not just the artists that I am interested in that others should be concerned with in terms of figuring out what kind of person I should be how I react to the artists that YOU are into as well. Many people forget that I can learn more about them by judging their reaction to MY interests, rather than them TELLING me about theirs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fyre2012 ( 762907 )
      Sing from your fucking heart!!
      I want my rockstars dead!!
      Bill Hicks says it best =)
    • Myers-Briggs Jung (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:44PM (#17891924)
      One thing I would like to see is musical preferences by Myers-Briggs/Jung [] personality type. I mention this because, although imperfect, I have found that these personality types will give you a lot of information about a person. Someone who is ENFP (typical 'party girl') is mostly only interested in having fun and would likely be really into the pop-music of the day, on the other hand someone who is ISTJ (typical accountant) is probably going to be far more interested in technical perfection and may like Classical or Jazz; the reason musical taste could be important is an ENFP will think that the ISTJ and his music is boring whereas the ISTJ will think that the ENFP's music and lifestyle are pointless.
      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

        I like Jazz, Bluegrass, Country, Classic Rock, Death/Black metal, Jungle, Breaks, "political rap" (i.e. immortal technique) Opera, Ambient, Noisecore, Power Metal, Mathcore, Tech-Step, Trip-Hop....

        What kind of personality would you put that at?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          the personnality of someone who likes to put labels on things ? ;)
        • by mekkab ( 133181 )
          ENTP. No question about it.
          • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

            ENTP. No question about it.

            That's funny, because based on what my personality is IRL matches exactly ZERO of the things that identify ENTP.

            I will never tell someone they are wrong to have an interest in something, nor have I ever found anyone "boring."

            EVERYBODY is an interesting person. That doesn't mean they are good or bad. However, I have yet to meet or see a single solitary person that I would call boring. In addition, I have yet to meet or see a single solitary person that I would apply a "personal

        • As a guess ... INTJ

          I am an INTJ (and I suspect that although we only represent 1% of the population we're pretty common on Slashdot) and one of the more obvious characteristics of our personality type is an interest in everything ... Just a guess though
    • Quite right.

      Mathematics is the universal language. Music expreses that, and also the language of the soul, so it has the best of both worlds.

      Computer & Music Joke: Rember, C# is still a Db.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:23PM (#17891524)
    It's much easier to say you like some crappy indie band in order to get inside a girl's pants.
  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:24PM (#17891534)
    I just bought a new waterbed
    and it's made for me and you!

    Why don't, we get drunk, and screw...
  • by PoconoPCDoctor ( 912001 ) <> on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:24PM (#17891538) Homepage Journal
    Maybe Microsoft's Zune is onto something.

    New line in a bar on a Saturday night -

    "Squirt me three tunes, and I'll let you know if you can buy me a drink."
  • Music us everywhere, for the big global bands and artists there is generally something to discuss.
    It breaks the ice.

  • Music is "easy" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lonechicken ( 1046406 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:26PM (#17891578)
    Once you get past the introductions and the "I like everything except rap/metal/country (choose your typical singled out genre)", there's still plenty to talk about. Songs in general have a good combination of easy to understand qualitative concepts that extend beyond "this is better than that" to discuss. There's also the element of, "Hey we both like this ___, have you tried listening to ___?" Movies are the same way (as shown in that poll), though I'm a little surprised music beat movies by that much.
    • Re:Music is "easy" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kthejoker ( 931838 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:45PM (#17893036)
      There are a lot of reasons music is much better at judging than movies:

      1) Music comes in much smaller and more discrete bites, and therefore more can be judged faster.
      2) Music is easier to say "Yes" or "No" to. Most movies fall in grey areas, where you didn't like it, "but it had redeeming values" (or, corollary: it "wasn't perfect but it was still really good"). In short, people don't qualify their music tastes as much as their movie tastes.
      3) Music, because it is generally easier to create, as a whole has a much larger spectrum. So niches are easier to find (and accentuate.) Again, more music means more niches.
      4) And finally, music (again, because it's easier to create and has more niches) is more divided sociologically than movies are. When someone says, "I like country & western and I can't stand rap", they are making as much a statement about their sociological identity as they are about their music tastes. Someone who says "I like comedies, but I can't stand thrillers" isn't making the same kind of statement. And more to the point, there's nothing sociological that precludes someone from enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean or Superman Returns. For music, that's a lot less true.

      In short, cinema as a whole must cater to drawing in as many fans as possible. Music simply doesn't need to cater to the whole, because the niche in and of itself can sustain music. Movies are "for the masses"; but if you don't like one thing of music, you can just try another.
  • by ciaohound ( 118419 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:29PM (#17891634)
    "Once past saying 'hello' and 'how are you?' to someone you've just met, what is next?"

    * Retreat back to cube and resume coding
    * Avoid eye contact and hope someone else comes along to relieve you from having to make conversation
    * Launch into a rant
    * "I don't have friends/conversations/etc, you insensitive clod!"
    * Generic Cowboy Neal reference
    • by Clazzy ( 958719 )
      You need a dupe option, so say "hello" and "how are you?" a second time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slasho81 ( 455509 )

      * Launch into a rant

      I know you were joking, but ranting is a pretty good bonding strategy. Disliking the same things is a much better ground for friendship than liking the same things. NYT [], PDF paper [], Wikipedia []

  • by VE3OGG ( 1034632 ) <VE3OGG@rac . c a> on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:31PM (#17891660)

    Guy:Hey, I've got a nano!
    Girl:I have to go... and... wash my hair...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's not the size of the iPod, it's how you use it.
  • Random sample (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:31PM (#17891662)
    Is this a random sample across all demographics and locations? I bet it isn't. It's probably one of those social science experiments where they draw sweeping conclusions about the whole of humanity by interviewing 30 college students.

    Or am I too cynical?
    • Re:Random sample (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:38PM (#17891812)
      Ha! I was right - just checked the paper, it was with 60 undergraduate students. Apparently the other topics of conversation were:

      1) How drunk you got last night.
      2) Which lecturer you hate the most.
      3) Have you written that stupid paper yet.
      4) Are you going to the club tonight.
      • Yeah that's what drives me crazy about all the so-called "studies" posted here. There's a reason you won't see anything about this anywhere else: this is not a real study, it's an opinion piece with targeted results masquerading as "proof". Lame-o.
  • High Fidelity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:33PM (#17891720)
    "What really matters is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films -- these things matter."
    • One of my favorite movies..Better yet,

      "Was I listening to pop music because I was depressed, or was i depressed because I was listening to pop music?"
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:34PM (#17891728) Homepage
    Music just has the right characteristics to be a good conversation topic.

    Unless your a farmer or a meteorologist, you can't talk for more than a few seconds about the weather.

    Sex, politics, and religion are way too dangerous.

    But there is a lot of music, there is a lot to talk about, the chances are that two people selected at random know a lot more of the same music than the same books, the same movies, etc.

    You can care enough about music to have a spirited, passionate discussion about it, but few people care so much about it that disagreements could lead to violence, or even to the breakup of a budding friendship.

    If you take someone home to meet your parents, you don't need to worry about whether that person's taste in music will match your parents or not.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:31PM (#17892800)

      Music just has the right characteristics to be a good conversation topic.

      I strongly disagree. Music is often thought to be good conversation topic and a good meter for determining what type of personality someone has. 90% of the time actually starting such a conversation, however, results in canned responses based upon what social circle the person is in and what they think is "cool." Most younger people especially tend to listen to music to make a statement, rather than to reflect their real tastes. The average conversation about music goes something like this:

      So, what kind of music do you like?

      Umm, you know, indy music, like [pop_band_x] or [pop_band_y]

      Really, huh those are okay, have you heard [band_z]

      Umm, no, are they good?


      Such conversation is dreadful and useless. If you want to get to know someone and make an impression, you need to be a bit more interesting yourself. I like to start conversations with something spontaneous, like, "hi you don't know me but I think you're really sexy. Can you think of any circumstance under which you'd murder someone?" Or start off by breaking them out of the conversational mold. I met some really interesting people by introducing them to my friends like, "hey everybody, this is my old friend Veronica, she once punched a homeless guy who said her shoes were ugly." If the random girl I'm referring to as "Veronica" is an interesting person, she'll almost always run with it and I met someone fun. If not, she runs for the door or her boyfriend and I haven't wasted 5 minutes repeating the same boring conversation about music.

      My advice to everyone is to ignore the topic of music and develop some character. Be confident and interesting and you don't have to worry about picking "safe" topics to meet people.

      • My advice to everyone is to ignore the topic of music and develop some character. Be confident and interesting and you don't have to worry about picking "safe" topics to meet people.

        Amen to that. I only started making friends in any number when I stopped caring so much about whether I made them, whether I impressed people, what they thought of me, etc. Just hang around with people who make you feel better than you otherwise do, and avoid people who make you feel worse, while being yourself. That's the bot

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by danpsmith ( 922127 )

        I met some really interesting people by introducing them to my friends like, "hey everybody, this is my old friend Veronica, she once punched a homeless guy who said her shoes were ugly." If the random girl I'm referring to as "Veronica" is an interesting person, she'll almost always run with it and I met someone fun. If not, she runs for the door or her boyfriend and I haven't wasted 5 minutes repeating the same boring conversation about music.

        Ah, a man after my own. I wanna start up a surrealist greeti

  • Just note (Score:3, Insightful)

    by in2mind ( 988476 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:35PM (#17891748) Homepage

    One really important caveat for this study was that the average age of the participants was around 18 so this finding might not hold in different age-groups.

    When 50 or 70 year old persons meet they probably would talk other things.

    • by garcia ( 6573 )
      I talk about other things and I'm in my mid-twenties. Musical tastes don't make a shit of a difference to me (or anyone that I have dated) when selecting a mate.

      Honestly, if someone found that they were incompatible with me because of the music I listen to, I would have a hard time believing that they were worth it.
      • I gotta say I was thinking the same thing when I read this. While there's no denying that music is a common topic of discussion when meeting new people, I think to much is being read into it. Like some one above me said, its a safe topic and can read at least a little bit about a person without asking the dangerous questions.

        My wife and I have relatively little overlap on the music we 'really' like, and I don't see what the big deal is. Hell, I didn't even notice that until awhile after we were married, and
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mopower70 ( 250015 )
      I'm not quite 50, but I can get a pretty good feel for how I'm going to relate with someone by mentioning the Iraq occupation or global warming. They're charged enough topics that you can get a feel for the person's political, social, and religious leanings without the overt hostility you'd get from mentioning, say, abortion or affirmative action. The responses are usually along a broad spectrum and give enough color to figure out how sympatico you'll be.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:35PM (#17891754)
    Me - I love you too.
    Her - Yeah, they are a great band.
  • Phooey (Score:4, Funny)

    by bendodge ( 998616 ) <bendodge@bsgpr[ ... m ['ogr' in gap]> on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:36PM (#17891760) Homepage Journal
    My first question is "Do you know what Linux is?". I find that is infinitely more helpful than asking what music somebody likes.
    • by syphax ( 189065 )

      Yeah, that weeds out the hotties real quick.

      Apologies to all the smokin' female Linux users out there...
  • personalized (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nEoN nOoDlE ( 27594 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:36PM (#17891768) Homepage
    music is very personalized and ubiquitous. There's probably very few people in America who haven't heard the top 5 songs of the day, whether they like them or not. Music is also easily accessible. In 3 - 5 minutes, a song could deliver lyrics that could change your mood or teach you things - like a little psychology session. And, people usually listen to music at any time for different things. People have music to study to, dance to, listen to when they're happy and music for depression. The easily accessible 3 minute package makes it easy to have music a part of your life unlike any other form of media. Books require a lot of attention and time, and tv isn't as portable and requires too much attention as well. It's really not surprising that music choices are the biggest conversation topic.
    • That's an interesting thought.

      The Billboard Hot 100
      1. Beyonce
      2. Fall Out Boy
        This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race
      3. Nelly Furtado
        Say It Right
      4. Daughtry
        It's Not Over
      5. Akon Featuring Snoop Dogg
        I Wanna Love You

      I've heard of Beyonce, Snoop Dogg, and Nelly. I don't know that I've heard any of these songs. It's possible that I've insulated myself sufficiently by listening to Old Fogey Radio.

      • by dogbowl ( 75870 )
        Same here, I guess I am out of touch.

        I haven't bothered to tuneprogram the radio in my car (that I bought 5 years ago) and that tends to be where I hear "popular" music.

        I do however listen to a lot of music though....
    • Shows how out of touch I am. I don't know anyone who buys singles so I've no idea what "top N songs" could even mean.
  • The only thing on my iPod is the soothing sounds of Crispin Hellion Glover. [] What does that say about me?
    • Re:my ipod (Score:4, Funny)

      by Skadet ( 528657 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:57PM (#17892170) Homepage

      The only thing on my iPod is the soothing sounds of Crispin Hellion Glover. What does that say about me?
      You've got an older, low-capacity Shuffle?
    • by Grym ( 725290 ) *

      The only thing on my iPod is the soothing sounds of Crispin Hellion Glover. What does that say about me?

      It's interesting that you should bring that up, because the results show that you have latent beastality tendencies... and you touch yourself at night.

      Just kidding. As other people have mentioned, this study doesn't mean much at all. People just talk about music because it's an ice-breaker. It prevents dreaded conversational deadspace that can make even the most extroverted of us akward. Can you t

  • shit (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArmorFiend ( 151674 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:38PM (#17891804) Homepage Journal

    Psychologists have talked about the importance of body language, physical appearance and clothing.
    Physical appearance and clothing matters?! Now that's what I call News for Nerds.
  • by DrBuzzo ( 913503 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:41PM (#17891866) Homepage
    I shall share it with you now... Because I just cannot continue to hide it in my MP3 player: I find Abba to be really catchy. Hell, I may even mouth the lyrics... okay... its more than mouthing. I know, I should be ashamed of myself. I'm straight...I swear!
  • by Lazerf4rt ( 969888 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:43PM (#17891902)

    How do we make friends and get to know other people?

    I hate shit like this. Question: Do you want to know how to make friends, or do you want to make friends? Because when you start to look for the secret procedure behind friendship, you start looking at people as if they were abstract personalities, with some quanitifiable set of properties, and you stop looking at them as human beings. And this attitude can prevent you from actually connecting with them. It's completely absurd. Not everything is meant to be turned into cold science.

    • by qwijibo ( 101731 )
      I'd mod you insightful if I had points. However, you are being a bit mean to all of the people who will never actually become people themselves. The best they have to hope for is to follow directions and become the kind of automaton that others want them to be. And you want to take that away. Thank you for taking the time to make them feed bad - I hate them too. =)
    • Wow, that was one of the strangest posts I've seen here. Is sociology now evil? If you're not interested, don't read the fucking study.
      • I know, I felt kinda weird after posting it. I tend to get worked up by this type of discussion (on or off Slashdot). That's just me. I wouldn't call sociology "evil", if it's not taken too seriously. I just didn't like the pretentious tone of the summary (and article) and I'm also interested in seeing how people react to a comment like that on Slashdot.

        • Fair enough. I agreed with most of your post; "social robots" are scary. It was that last sentence that elicited my WTF reaction.
    • This is a psychology study, it's supposed to be cold science. Do you complain about the categorization of insects being cold science because it describes the beautiful butterflies in the same terms as the cockroaches? These people want to know how we make friends, regardless of whether they have any or not.

      Socializing is an exercise in not being too boring but not being too excentric either. If somebody's first topic is the collected works of Tolstoy, they may learn from a study like this that they might

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rithiur ( 736954 )
      It may not be important for *you* to know how to make friends, but it helps to understand how humans generally act in social situation. There are variety of ways to use this kind of information to help people have better lives, therapy being most notable.

      Say what you will, but humans are automatons to certain extent, enough to have predictable behavioral patterns.
    • by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:42PM (#17892978)
      Do you want to know how to make friends, or do you want to make friends?

      Do you want to know how to do math, or do you want to do math?

      For many people in the world the answer is do math because they have never seen it as being particularly difficult; as an example, until my forth year of mathematics in university I never bought a text book because the material was obvious. As hard as it is for most of us to understand there are millions of people in this world who have difficulty making friends, getting into romantic relationships, and functioning in a work place; by studying how personal relationships are formed, and how people interact, you can figure out a way to help people with their own issues. There is value in this work regardless of whether you see it.
    • by greg_barton ( 5551 ) * <> on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:48PM (#17893086) Homepage Journal

      It's completely absurd. Not everything is meant to be turned into cold science.
      What's absurd is ascribing emotional motivations to science. Science is not "cold." It just is. I could call it "warm, lovely science" and that would be just as valid.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:19PM (#17893558)

      Because when you start to look for the secret procedure behind friendship, you start looking at people as if they were abstract personalities, with some quanitifiable set of properties, and you stop looking at them as human beings.

      Long ago I read a book where two characters were discussing personality types. One character claimed he categorized people into two groups. He'd show people the idyllic garden behind his home and eventually tell them he had built that small hill, and moved those rocks so they looked like they had fallen there, and reshaped the stream to run a different way. One type of people were appalled that the beauty was not natural and felt disillusioned and the other group were amazed by his ability to create beauty and enlightened by the knowledge. The claim was that some people prefer to believe in the beauty in the natural world, while others prefer to see the beauty inside a person expressed.

      I don't believe in such dichotomies, but I think there is a valuable lesson there. Understanding the processes that lay behind some phenomenon need not devalue that phenomenon and may in fact enhance one's appreciation of it. Every day I am appalled by the ignorance and meanness and stupidity and selfishness of people. They lie right to your face, care nothing for people they profess to love, and are unthinking animals in making decisions, while they are cold and calculating robot lawyers when it comes to justifying those same actions.

      Every day I am amazed by how amazingly generous and giving people are. People will ruin their entire day to avoid disappointing a friend, children put us all to shame with their friendliness and wonder and lack of prejudice, and people with completely different world views and beliefs can set that aside to do some good in the world.

      I've read more psychology books than some psychologists I know. I am very good at understanding people's motivations and feelings. I understand and implement a half dozen different models of the human animal. I don't think that stops me at all from being a very social person and I don't think it objectifies people. I don't have any trouble making friends and always seem to be meeting new people.

      I think it is important to recognize that understanding the human mind in a scientific sense does not mean you cannot understand it from a human perspective as well, and empathize and connect. These are not mutually exclusive points of view.

    • by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:34PM (#17893776)
      Some of us out there have a really hard time making friends. You are able to just make friends because you've passively learned the social protocols for doing so. They've become second nature to you. But there are a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another, never really learned the proper protocols, or haven't learned them to the degree that they are able to make friends easily. Woe be to you if you're one of these people and an adult. It effects every area of your life, and you are given almost no opportunity to learn by doing. People tend to not want to put up with socially awkward people in their inner circle. There's some very real value in being able to study behavior to make up for lost time, and apply those lessons to our own behavior, so we have some hope of fitting in.
  • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:43PM (#17891908)
    they said the average age was like 18. What do 18 year olds have to talk about with random peers? If you mix an accountant and a construction worker, they may have similarities in that they may have kids, be sick of the boss, have funny co-worker stories.

    Most 18 year olds don't have profound achievements that have a commonality. If you have kids, you don't mind hearing about other people's kids. If you're in physics club, you probably don't want to hear about a wrestling match.

    Studies also show that teenagers blow at empathetic responses, so it harder to tell if someone is interested by subtle clues. If someone follows along on the conversation, its a go... So music is the most common ground shared by all teens.

    Except me, i really didn't ever listen to the radio.
  • It would be interesting to see this study taken further. I suspect that there is more to this than just coincidence - that is, one will probably find that people with similar tastes in music often have similar political/religious/philosophical views, education, perhaps even similar skills/interests, childhood experiences, etc. It's just a hypothesis, but I bet there's some truth to it. Any psychologists out there know of such a study having been done?
  • More that it's non-threatening. When you are first getting to know someone, you usually aren't up for divulging your most personal secrets. However, you do need something to talk about other than the weather. Things like music are a good starting point. You probably don't really get, or give, much useful info about yourself but it is something to talk about and helps you get more familiar.

    Relationships are about emotion, there's not always logic to how or why we do things.
  • playlist sharing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by doti ( 966971 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:47PM (#17891998) Homepage
    Yesterday I was at a small party, the music was from an iPod. One song caught my attention, and I wanted to know what song and artist it was.

    It would be nice to have this feature on the (wireless/bluetooth enabled) digital music players: an option to share the playlist, so I could get my cellphone and read (and store) the info on the music being played.
  • by Aptgetupdate ( 1051164 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:49PM (#17892016)
    and your subculture is most accurately represented by its music acts.

    I can determine more about a person I meet from, "I like Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake" or "I have two playlists: GWAR, and other" (including their willingness to admit either of those) than I can from half a dozen other interests and opinions.

    Clothing often crosses subcultures, as do slang, political opinion, religious belief and behavior, but there are very people whose personality and approach to life will defy their music tastes. When was the last time you met a hyper-aggressive, Type-A asshole who lists smooth Jazz before Metallica?

    Of course, when you meet someone who says they like "everything" and then proceeds to list mainstream rock AND mainstream rap, know the conversation doesn't need to proceed any further because they're a fucking toolbox.
  • Two things.

    One, it's a common interest. Lots of people don't read. Many aren't into painting or cars or gaming or photography or other hobbies. But it's rare to find a person so uninterested in music that they can't converse on the topic at even a superficial level, even if all they hear is what's playing on the radio at work.

    Second, it's a safe topic of discussion. It's not religion or politics, and it's even unlikely to segue into those topics.

    So "when you first meet people," it makes sense that it's
  • music is directly emotional in a way that movies aren't. it's also highly interpretive, so WHY someone likes something is as important as what they like. it reveals how deeply they think about that certain part of themselves that is ecstatic and interpretive.

    there are very valuable emotions communicated by very shoddy musicianship. there are very bland emotions communicated by overproduced garbage. the conglomeration of what people like is telling at least of what they're going through at the moment.

  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:54PM (#17892108)
    People might enjoy a wide variety of music, or they may have narrow tastes. But I've never met anyone who hated all music.

    I know people who hate television and movies, calling them "useless time-wasters". I know people who don't like ice cream and hate dogs. I even know somebody who hates nearly everybody else. But music is different. Some people don't notice it much, but even they know what they like.

    People know that their musical choices are very personal. If you ask what kind of music they like, they get a chance to talk about themselves. And many are proud of their musical taste. It's like fine wine. Some people are connoiseurs, and some just drink whatever is available. And a wine expert generally just LOVES to talk about wine.

    For anybody who thinks that showing disdain for some form of music somehow increases their credibility on the subject, remember this: nothing turns off somebody else faster than saying their favorite band/artist sucks.
  • Music can make or break a relationship. It's always an easy topic to start off with because everyone listens to music. If you don't you're either deaf or very boring and even deaf people like to "listen" to bass lines. People find it easy to discuss their musical tastes so its an efficient ice breaker. However, deeper psychological connotations of musical taste differs greatly from person to person.
  • I've always been aware that when people get together they tend to talk about music, and it's always disgusted me. The reason it disgusts me is that they are not talking about music because they have really strongly felt preferences or something of interest to say but because you can always find someway to agree and the conversation topic is so bland it won't frighten anyone off. Music has two properties that make it so apt for this purpose.

    First of all it is all about preferences so it isn't intimidating
    • Or maybe a better way of putting the point is that music is non-threatening and it is easy for you to trick yourself into agreeing with someone. There are so many bands that you probably feel 'ehh' about it isn't too hard to think you like them when the person your talking to clearly wants you to like them.

      Furthermore, once you've convinced yourself you like them you often will so it won't fall apart later.
    • I translate "likes jazz" as laziness or "I like auditory mobeius strips of wandering saxaphones."

      And the Italians utterly pwn the French in dining. French cuisine is for people who have decided they hate food, and that meals must be an ordeal to be endured rather than enjoyed.

      Hey, mod me +5 in-tuh-lektual, baby! :-P
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:59PM (#17892194)

    The Onion has a feature called Random Rules. [] They take a celebrity type person and put their MP3 player on random. Then have the person being interviewed discusses what happens to come up on their player.

    It's actually a pretty good feature. I especially liked the one with Gerald Casale.

  • Well, there's that whole "talking" thing. Do people really need gadgets now to have a conversation?
  • by WilliamCotton ( 856410 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:05PM (#17892324) Journal
    Well, for one, knowing what kind of music someone else listens to is a great way to find out a lot of cultural similarities between yourself and them. Pieces of music seem to compact weeks worth of communication in to a short length of time. If you and another individual are in to the same obscure indie rock band, you're probably going to have a lot of cultural connections. The thing is, it's never really about the music. The non-musical aspects are much more important. How we first came to hear a certain piece, who told us about it, who else listens to it, when it was from, why it was made... all of these are more important than the chord structure, lyrics, melody, and form of the song or piece.

    IAAMusician, and let me be the first to tell you that coming to this realization was not easy at first, probably due to the fact that I had to first learn and internalize most of the fundamentals of music, which kept me focused on the structural aspects. That being said, I still have no idea what music is or why I enjoy to make or listen to it. I do know that most people refuse to believe that the reason they don't like rap music isn't because of the sonic structures or lyrical content of the music rather the fact that they cannot relate to the culture that is responsible for its creation. Most musicians I know refuse to believe this as well, and while I cannot even come close to proving my thoughts on this, I know that if it is not the most important aspect of music, it is at least partially true.

    For example, last night, I was coming back from a friend's place, and I took a cab, not the easiest thing to do right after the Superbowl ends, especially in New York City. I was lucky enough to get a cab almost right away. The driver, as usual, was minding his own business. He was listening to a type of ethnic music typically known as Hindustani, originating from the Northern parts of India, near the Pakistani border, but also closely associated to Bangalore. I'm pretty in to this kind of music, the vocal styles, the tablas, the sitars here and there. However, he was used to the fact that most white dudes would probably rather listen to classic rock and offered to change to a radio station of my choice. I told him that I was enjoying this music, and immediately, he sprung to life! He handed me the album case and started telling me all about who this guy was that had written the songs, who the singer was, and tons of other information about the music and the culture behind it. Apparently, it was all written by this man, Rabindranath Tagore [], who my cabbie enthusiastically told me was the first person from Asia to win the Nobel Prize, AND, that he had written all of his work in his native language. He was overflowing with pride. Not wanting to be the cultural hog of the conversation, he grabbed another CD case from the front and passed it back. It was a compilation of the Greatest Love Songs, with stuff like Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, etc... He had grown fond of listening to an Adult Contemporary station here in NYC and bought some albums and he was really in to it! I told him that if he enjoyed these songs, he would love one of my favorite songwriters, Burt Bacharach. At the end of the journey we both exchanged information about the artists we had recommended to each other and completed our cultural exchange.

    So your musical preferences will have a direct relation to your cultural preferences. How all of this applies to todays hyper-culture, with it's multitudes of sub genres and opinions scattered left and right, I have no idea. I'm still trying to figure that one out. I wouldn't have a hard time believing that if two people are both into neo-industrial-hardcore-skate-ska that there would be enough of a cultural/personality match for them to make a good couple.

    So, no offense to all of you Julie Andrews fans out there, but the sound of music really doesn't seem to be as important as the culture of music.
  • I prefer books. Not only will I talk about books, but the first thing I will do on visiting someone for the firt time is look at their book shelves.

    A lot of my friends have overlapping taste in books - and I have often discovered this after making friends. Presumeably the same applies to music.
  • Country is for emotionally stable and jazz is for intellectuals. Hmmmm. Tell me please, dear psychologists, what is my personality if I don't listen to any music at all?
  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:11PM (#17892450) Journal
    If they can't answer "What level is your character?" without flinching, it's DATE OVER.
  • by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:14PM (#17892512) Homepage Journal
    Even though I sing in a church choir, I don't listen to music much, and I don't own any kind of personal music player, except for my old Walkman, gathering dust in the back of a drawer somewhere. When I have the radio on in the car, it's either talk radio, a book on tape or a lecture on tape (currently 9 hours into a 15-hour seminar on Dante's "Comedia").

    I'm very knowledgable about art, history, literature, science, religion, politics, cooking, gardening, hunting, woodworking, and a jillion other things. I like to learn about things that interest other people, and I like to talk about things that interest me. I can hold a conversation and engage in a discussion with someone who holds a different viewpoint, without being disagreeable or opinionated. I have a lot of interests, but music isn't one of them.

    But because I don't listen to music, the most obvious middle ground is closed to me. I have no idea who any of the big music stars are these days, and do not recognize a hit tune when it is played for me. Even worse, when I say, "I don't listen to music.", it's assumed that I am a completely uninteresting shlub who's leisure hours are filled with TV sitcom reruns.
  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <<logicnazi> <at> <>> on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:14PM (#17892524) Homepage
    It doesn't surprise me that what music you like correlates with certain personality types. However, I think the assumption that people are making, that what music you like reflects something deep about you, is totally bullshit.

    Musical preferences, like many other preferences, are formed as much by associations and practice as anything else. Often we might not like something at first or be neutral to it but then when your friends keep putting it on you associate it with good times (or just by repetition) and start to like it. One reason that our musical preferences say things about us is that it reflects on who are friends were and what sort of environment we grew up in. Another reason is that these very societal stereotypes affect what music we are likely to be open to liking.

    For instance I know several people who weren't particularly into jazz (never really listened to it at all) but they view themselves as intellectuals and having heard that jazz is so complex and deep if you only know how to listen to it they decided to start listening to jazz. Of course they eventually started to get into but I think they could have done the same thing with Britney Spears if they had honestly believe that the music was really deep and complex.

    In other words how we feel about music is often just a reflection about the societal stereotypes we have about that sort of music.

    If you don't believe me try and think of how many people you know who claim to hate country music who have ever given it a really fair chance? Same with rap. However, pick a song they think they 'should' like and they will give it a much better chance. Particularly with rap and country our likes/dislikes have a lot to do with our attitudes to social class.

    I know many people won't believe me because it very much *feels* like you are responding to something in the music. However, just think about how strong the placebo effect can be and how good we are at tricking ourselves and ask whether this is a plausible explanation.

  • by lonechicken ( 1046406 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:21PM (#17892624)
    ...As an icebreaker. Classic moment is when Ralph Wiggum is walking with Lisa and he didn't have anything to say, so he said, "So... do you like... stuff?"

    I have this theory that all things in life can be referenced by something on Simpsons, Futurama, or Family Guy. So like an idiot, I tried testing this theory once, with an actual pro football cheerleader I was out on a date with. (Yeah, wrong time to test that theory).

    We had things to talk about, but when a moment of dead silence came, I did the Ralph act, "So... do you like... stuff?", and she gave me a WTF look. Yep, I quickly moved onto music and other safe topics.
  • Judas Priest
    Blue Man Group
    Green Day (the original stuff)

    Yeah, go ahead. Just TRY to put me in a category.

    Someone's musical tastes can only give you so much information about someone. The only way to know what a person is really like is to spend time with them.
  • Musical ?Taste? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:43PM (#17893932)
    The best quote I ever heard about music was in a discussion about pre-fab boy bands where someone said "I prefer real music. Music made by ugly angry men who write their own songs and play their own instruments."

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!