Psychologists have been studying 'personality' for a long time. Their goal is to understand why people think, feel, and behave differently in the same situation. The prevailing personality model is called the 'Big Five.' It holds there are five factors that describe a broad range of personality traits and characteristics. No single factor describes personality by itself:
- Extroversion includes people on two ends of a spectrum, introverts and extroverts. Extroverts thrive on interactions with others while introverts thrive on solitude. This factor reflects a person's tendency to be sociable, assertive, talkative, and friendly.
- Agreeableness describes how well people get along well with others. This factor encompasses altruism, trust, tact, and loyalty.
- Conscientiousness describes how well people control their impulses and act in socially acceptable ways. It encompasses persistence, ambition, energy, and resourcefulness.
- Neuroticism describes how comfortable and confident people are with themselves. It encompasses awkwardness, pessimism, insecurity, and wariness.
- Openness to experience describes willingness to try new experiences and think outside the box. This factor reflects perceptiveness, curiosity, insightfulness, and imagination.
As it turns out, musical preferences are pretty good predictors of some personality factors, especially openness, extroversion, and agreeableness. Openness is associated with a preference for 'sophisticated' music (classical, operatic, world, and jazz), extroversion is associated with 'unpretentious' music (country and folk), and, as you might expect, agreeableness is associated with liking all types of music.
It's notable that musical preferences fail to predict conscientiousness.