What does your personality type say about your musical talent? Is there a link between musical sophistication and personal characteristics? A study from the University of Cambridge indicates that personality, particularly the tendency toward Openness, can be a strong indicator of musical ability.

The study, of the largest to date on music and personality, included over 7,000 test subjects. The volunteers were led by doctoral researcher David Greenberg and were tested on musical abilities such as rhythm and melody. The participant’s musical scores were then compared to tests on the Big Five personality traits, which include: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN).

 “Openness to Experience: (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent, and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. High openness can be perceived as unpredictable and unfocused. Low openness people are pragmatic and data-driven, sometimes perceived to be dogmatic and closed-minded. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret the openness factor, which is sometimes called “intellect” rather than openness to experience.” -Wikipedia

Findings showed that subjects – even those who did not play a musical instrument – were more musically inclined if their Big Five scores measured higher in Openness and Extraversion. Traits of Openness such as: active imagination, thinking creatively, and desiring a wide range of activities helps promote the interests that drive musical success. The discovery revealed that there are many people wired for musical talent, however, because of a lack of exposure, they may be completely unaware of their musical potential.

“Scientists are only now beginning to focus on the nature of musicality in non-musicians. The idea that there are people out there who may be primed to be musical, but who have never played an instrument, is a topic that the educational and political spheres should begin to take into consideration.” Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen

This new information, revealing the links between music and personality, will be helpful to educators encouraging students with certain characteristics to develop their innate musical skills. Identifying potential talent in those who may not have otherwise been exposed to a musical instrument holds the potential to broaden the world of music as a whole. As Dr. Jason Rentfrow explains, “Psychologists had originally focused on the links between personality and musical preferences, but it’s turning out that personality has far more of a pervasive role in our everyday musical experiences, including our musical ability.”

Interested in learning more about your potential for musical success? Take this series of musical quizzes to discover how your personality and aptitude measure up:



CENSEO engineers specialize in acoustics and the science behind the music. We have successfully completed several projects in music and arts spaces, auditoriums, worship facilities, and concert halls. If you’re interested in learning more about acoustical engineering and acoustical consulting services for acoustical spaces, contact our team today!


source: Science Daily
photo: Curious Cortex


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