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Scientists Find People Who Are Open-Minded And Empathetic Are Musically Gifted

Scientists Find People Who Are Open-Minded And Empathetic Are Musically Gifted

Personality is the most often-discussed area of psychology and neuroscience in the modern era – the ideas of whether or not our personality is inherent and fixed or whether or not it changes and adapts over time thanks to social and environmental factors. Fortunately, new research has indicated that there might be a link between a musical aptitude and personality – namely that more adventurous and curious individuals are more likely to be musically gifted.

The Research

The research, conducted at the University of Cambridge, has shown that according to the tenements of pre-existing personality theory, namely the ‘Big Five’ pillars of personality, people who exhibit higher levels in ‘openness to experience’ are more likely to have musical ability or are musically talented.

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The study, present within the current month’s ‘Journal of Research in Personality, explored how David Greenberg, a PhD student at Cambridge and the lead researcher of this study, and his team found a link between openness to experience and musical ability – not only of those who already played musical instruments but those who had no previous experience and to whom the ability was predicted.

The Study

Participants within the study were tested on their musical abilities, such as the abilities to recall melodies and to perceive rhythms, with both musicians and non-musicians included within the test population. They were then given the questionnaire that examines for the ‘Big Five’ personality traits.

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The Big Five personality traits were aspects of human personality channeled into a questionnaire method of assessing personality developed by researchers from the 1960s to the 1980s. The five traits – openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (or OCEAN for short) – have stood as a major template for personality theory for decades.

“We had expected to see that openness predicted musical ability for those who played a musical instrument, but we were pleasantly surprised to see that openness also predicted musical ability for those who had no musical experience at all,” Greenberg, a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Cambridge, informed The Huffington Post in a recent article.

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The Results

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that musical ability was most strongly linked to ‘openness to experience’ – somewhat logical given that musicians’ abilities often rely on artistic experience, spontaneity, and creative expression – and that even the kind of music that people listen to and enjoy has ramifications on their personality.

Studies running parallel to this research have found that the personality trait of ‘openness’ is linked to ‘sad’ music (music with a negative or melancholic mood or feeling) and in particular to the genres of classical music and jazz.

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Furthermore, individuals who enjoy listening to ‘sad’ music tended to score highest on the traits of agreeableness, empathy, and openness in personality tests similar to the ones conducted in Greenberg, et. al’s study; this is according to the work of Dr David Huron, a music cognition professor at Ohio State University.

“Some people think that our musical behaviors are random, but recent research is showing that our daily musical experiences are tied to our personality and even other factors such as our thinking styles,” Greenberg commented. “For example, another recent study this past summer from our team showed that people’s empathy and systematizing levels were linked to their musical preferences.”

The Implications

The implications of the research are potentially global and interesting to boot; music programs at colleges and universities could implement personality tests as part of the interview process in order to best fit students to appropriate modules and programs. It could even have wider-reaching ramifications, developing the complex relationship between music and psychology as experts continue to investigate and discover how the brain reacts to and creates music.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

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

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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