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Personality And Music: Can Traits Explain How People Use Music In Everyday Life?

2584 words - 10 pages

This is a critical review of Chamorro-premuxic et al's 2007 study relating to trait theories and the use of music in everyday life. The primary focus will be on the theoretical basis for the study, as well as the methodology as influenced by said theory and finally potential applications and further research.
The study used the Five factor trait theory, IQ(obtained using the Wonderlic Personnel Test) and the Typical Intellectual Engagement (Goff and Ackerman. 1992) to investigate relationships with three pre-defined "uses of music". These were, Emotional, Cognitive and Background. The hypotheses were that there would be significant personality differences between these uses, neuroticism would be correlated with Emotional use, extraversion with Background use, Openess and the TIE with Cognitive, and finally that IQ would be related to Cognitive appreciation of music.
341 participants from American and English universities were tested during classes. Fixed structure focus groups were carried out and a thematic analysis of their results was used to derive an inventory for types of music use. Finally, participants were asked whether or not they were aware of various genres of music and whether or not they liked them.
The results yielded numerous significant results. IQ, TIE, and openness were all significantly correlated with cognitive use, neuroticism was was significantly correlated with emotional use and extraversion with background, confirming the stated hypotheses. Additionally, liking various genres was correlated with IQ and TIE results, while recognising them was correlated with TIE results alone. The study concluded that the traits a person displays are related to the method with which they use music in their daily lives, and account for 45% of the variance.
The discussion is thorough and the methods are described in detail, giving transparency.

The paper is grounded in previous research, but ,as it frequently mentions, there has been relatively little research relating to the actual use of music as opposed to preference. During this study participants were asked whether or not they recognised and/or liked various genres of music, the genres having been previously used in a factor analysis study (Rentfrow and Gosling, 2003). However, participants were only given a binary choice for each answer. This meant there were only three possible outcomes for each genre of music. This does not offer any kind of grading. Simply being aware of more genres does not mean that one is more aware of music as a whole. It also only demonstrates that they are aware of those options of the list, and does not allow for knowledge outside of it. This means that there is the clear possibility of a ceiling effect. Also, participants aware of musical genres other than those listed will not have these results included. For example, a knowledge of eastern music might correlate with a trait, this would not be picked up by the test. Thus the test serves...

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