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Are You More Of An ‘Empathiser’ or ‘Systemiser’? Your Music Playlist May Reflect Your Brain Type

Are You More Of An ‘Empathiser’ or ‘Systemiser’? Your Music Playlist May Reflect Your Brain Type

While you might think that the collection of tunes rocking around on your mp3 player or phone might just be a random assortment of your favorite songs, it turns out that you could secretly be displaying your true personality for all to see. New research published has indicated that some insight into your personality can be found by examining just what you have on your personal music playlists.

Some songs are linked with being higher in empathy and empathetic personality types, while others have indicated a more logical mental template.

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Although psychologists have long suspected a link between the kind of music that we enjoy and choose to surround ourselves with, and our personality traits, new research has expanded upon this; it has even identified certain branches of music as being more closely associated with particular “brain types”. The psychological research journal PLOS ONE has announced new research that indicates that your choices in music can help identify how your brain processes information, and therefore how you respond and react to new situations.

According to lead researcher and author David Greenberg, peoples’ cognitive styles and their personalities can help predict the kind of music they like, with Greenberg’s research breaking people down roughly into two categories. The Oxford University-based team who conducted the research spoke to 4,500 participants through apps on Facebook and Amazon (Facebook’s MyPersonality and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk applications). Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires, displaying the two types: ’empathisers’ who are more emotional, caring, and sympathetic, and ‘systemisers’, who are more logical, analytical, and objective.

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Empathisers tended to favor songs low on arousal (gentle, relaxing, reflective), with emotional depth in their lyrics and themes. This meant a tendency towards soft rock, easy listening, and adult contemporary music. Systemisers on the other hand prefer more high-energy music, such as punk, heavy metal, or hard rock music, with thrilling or strong beats.

This doesn’t mean that systemisers can’t be empathetic. People are more likely to generally exist on a spectrum, rather than to neatly fit into these two categories exactly; but, the idea of our musical preferences leading to psychological insight is intriguing to say the least. So, while you might think that your exclusive taste in Top 40 pop music might just be the way you like your tunes- (pop music has, by the way, been linked to extroversion and extrovert traits in test subjects)- it can actually be a useful insight into the way your brain works and how you process daily life.

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If you’re interested in which songs made the list for both categories, Greenberg et. al, listed some of their choices:

Songs associated with empathy

  • Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  • Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
  • All of Me – Billie Holiday
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

Songs associated with systemizing

  • Concerto in C – Antonio Vivaldi
  • Etude Opus 65 No 3 — Alexander Scriabin
  • God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols
  • Enter the Sandman – Metallica

There are even some ideas for how this information can be applied. For example, imagine training yourself to be more empathetic and kinder person, by simply listening to some Jeff Buckley.

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If you’re interested in finding out where you lie on the spectrum, look over your recent musical history and ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • When you listen to music, do you often find yourself listening to the lyrics?
  • Do you specifically listen to music for the lyrical content and themes?
  • When watching charity advertisements on TV, do you often find yourself moved by them?

if you answered ‘yes’ to all three of the questions above, then you might just be leaning more towards the ’empathiser’ camp, while those who didn’t may find themselves more aligned with ‘systemisers’.

Psychological research into music is a rapidly developing area, and we can expect to see further developments as our relationships with the songs we love and our brains continues to be explored in depth.

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on September 12, 2019

12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

Here are 12 things to remember:

1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

10. Journal During This Time

Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

Final Thoughts

Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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