Why You Might Want To Talk About Music On Your Next First Date

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Wondering how to quickly get to know your next blind date? New research from the University of Cambridge might give you an idea: talk about music. The findings suggest that a person's taste in music might say a lot about his or her overall personality. For the initial study, which is still in progress, the researchers designed a thorough online quiz and distributed it to over 4,000 men and women between 18 and 61 years old via the myPersonality Facebook application. Participants answered questions about their current mood, personality traits (descriptors included "extraverted," "critical," "anxious," "sympathetic," and "reserved"), the way they read and control their emotions, and the role music plays in their life. The participants then listened to 25 excerpts of music, ranging from rock to smooth jazz to electronic, and rated how much they enjoyed them. By comparing the music ratings to participants' personality traits, the researchers found that people who were more empathetic and conscientious of others' feelings were more likely to enjoy mellow, emotional music. Meanwhile, people who were more analytical or interested in critical thinking tended to prefer intense, energetic music. David Greenberg, one of the lead researchers and a psychologist at Cambridge, tells CNN that people who are more analytical may view music as a sort of "puzzle" for them to figure out, which could be why they preferred artists with more instrumentally complex music, like Rage Against The Machine or Metallica. Correspondingly, more empathetic people may have gravitated toward artists with more emotional music, like Joni Mitchell or Jeff Buckley, because they were more concerned with a song's narrative. The research is ongoing and the quiz is available for anyone to take, so we'll have to wait to see whether this connection changes or stays strong. At any rate, if you're on the lookout for a partner who'd be a great listener, there's no harm in asking which artist he or she prefers — Adele or Guns N' Roses. Sure, this research wasn't intended to be used quite so practically and you probably can't glean too much intel from the fact that your date is obsessed with Adele. But hey, at the very least, bringing up music will give you something to talk about if you're in need of an icebreaker.

More from Mind

R29 Original Series