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iTunes Psychology: Your Playlist, Your Self

You may not realize it, but your iTunes playlist tells people a lot about your personality. Ready to see what message your music is sending?

By (@JRRaphael)

December 1, 2010

I’m a rebellious and artistic guy with mixed emotions and a limited sense of responsibility. That’s what my MP3 collection indicates, anyway — at least, according to some recent research. (The fact that it didn’t include “irresistibly charming” in my profile, I assume, was a mere oversight.)

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have been studying how our musical tastes affect people’s perceptions of us. They’ve found certain musical preferences consistently lead people to the same conclusions — and, especially in our connected culture, we’re constantly sending out clues.

“It is now common practice to list your favorite bands on sites like MySpace or Facebook,” the study’s lead researcher explains. “This research shows that in doing so, many of us are also making clear public statements of who we are and how we should be perceived, whether we are conscious of that or not.” (That means you, Guy-Who-Thinks-No-One’s-Noticed-“Womanizer”-In-His-Pandora-History.)

So what persona is your choice of aural pleasure portraying? Here are some of the study’s conclusions:

  • Rock music: You’re rebellious, artistic, and emotionally unstable.
  • Jazz music: You’re friendly, emotionally stable, and have a limited sense of responsibility.
  • Rap music: You’re energetic, athletic, and also rather hostile.
  • Classical music: You’re intellectual, unattractive, and whiter than John Hodgman.

We conducted our own analysis to figure out what the presence of specific artists in your playlist tells outsiders. From the eSarcasm Snarkology Lab:

  • Songs by John Mayer: You’re either (a) an overgrown frat-boy douche or (b) a horny teenage girl.
  • Songs by Miley Cyrus: You’re either (a) a preteen girl or (b) a middle-aged male sex offender.
  • Songs by Shakira: You’re a normal heterosexual male, as long as you’re only a fan of watching her videos on mute; otherwise, you’re a tone-deaf asshole.
  • Songs by Katy Perry or Beyonce: See above.
  • Songs by Justin Bieber: You’re a big fan of Hilary Swank.
  • Songs by Uncle Kracker: You’re a mullet-sportin’ fella with a mouth full of chaw.
  • Songs by Nickelback: You’re the kind of guy who, five years ago, worshipped Creed.
  • Songs by Lil Wayne: We won’t be able to understand a word you say.
  • Songs by Alanis Morrisette: You’re the kind of girl we don’t want to date.
  • Songs by Flo Rida or any other rapper who blatantly promotes oral lovin’ in his lyrics: You’re the kind of girl we don’t want to date (but will try to sleep with tonight).

UPDATE: Yes, we really did remove that image after Google complained. See this post for the details.

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