Why Do We Have Different Tastes in Music?
The other night I was listening to music and it occurred to me that there is probably a large percentage of the population that wouldn’t listen to the same type of music I do, not even if they were being held at gunpoint (A bit like how I feel towards Lil Peep - sorry to any fans). So, me being the huge psychology geek and full time music lover that I am, I decided that I needed to look into this further. Why do we have different tastes in music?
Most of what I found essentially says that the music we like and that we listen to is heavily influenced by culture; i.e. friends, family and the people we surround ourselves with. If the people we associate with listen to a particular artist or genre of music, it is highly likely that we will also listen to that same artist or genre of music. This might be because we want to fit in with a particular social circle, or this could be because between the ages of 10 and 18-20 (when music taste usually stops developing), our musical preferences may reflect the music tastes of our friends and family because these are songs and sounds we have been brought up with or have been prominent in our teenage years (when our emotions are heightened and we are most sensitive to all kinds of music; these are the years when we are most influenced by the music tastes of others).
It is possible that mood also plays a role in the type of music we listen to. The emotional state we’re in when we listen to a song may determine whether we like it or not; if a person has gone through a breakup and they put on the radio, it is possible that the song(s) they listen to will become associated with this negative event and reminds them of how they were feeling when they listened to it, resulting in the person disliking the song. Vice versa if they’re going through a happier or more positive time in their life, the song will become associated with that feeling; when they listen to it they become happier, possibly resulting in them taking a liking to it.
As people, we tend to like others we can relate to and this is no different when it comes to musicians. Some psychologists suggest that the musician’s personality might have an influence over a person’s musical preference. For instance, if we relate to an artist or feel we share similar characteristics or personality features to the artist’s, as perceived by the media, we are more likely to identify with their music, and develop a preference for it.
I think people listen to music because of the way it makes us feel and the way it’s able to so easily draw out emotions if done correctly. I think our music tastes are dependent on what we’re looking for in music, and that’s why it can vary so dramatically from person-to-person.