In A Metal Mood? You Might Just Be More Analytical Than Easier Listeners A study finds links between emotional styles and musical taste. People who are empathetic like more mellow songs, but "systemizers" who try to understand behavioral rules enjoy more intense music.
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In A Metal Mood? You Might Just Be More Analytical Than Easier Listeners

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In A Metal Mood? You Might Just Be More Analytical Than Easier Listeners

In A Metal Mood? You Might Just Be More Analytical Than Easier Listeners

In A Metal Mood? You Might Just Be More Analytical Than Easier Listeners

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/430221647/430221648" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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A study finds links between emotional styles and musical taste. People who are empathetic like more mellow songs, but "systemizers" who try to understand behavioral rules enjoy more intense music.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now this - the music you listen to may be a clue to who you are.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HALLELUJAH")

JEFF BUCKLEY: (Singing) I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

According to a study, people who like this music that you're hearing tend to identify with other people. They're empathetic - far more empathetic than people who like this...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ENTER SANDMAN")

METALLICA: (Singing) Say your prayers little one. Don't forget my son to include everyone.

INSKEEP: So what's going on here? David Greenberg explains. He's lead researcher of the study that finds links between emotions and musical preferences.

DAVID GREENBERG: Music is a medium that is highly emotional.

INSKEEP: The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE, and it's based on a theory that says our style of thinking can generally be organized into two camps.

GREENE: An empathizer - one camp is interested in emotions and feelings. A systemizer is more analytical.

GREENBERG: One example is this - you have two individuals on a mountaintop. One who is an empathizer may be focusing more on the aesthetic of the scenery whereas the systemizer may be wondering about how the mountain was formed over the period of thousands of years.

GREENE: David Greenberg - I like that name - and this team gave 4,000 participants a test to determine which camp they belong to, and then they played them some music.

INSKEEP: The empathizers tended to like mellow music, likely R&B and soft rock. Systemizers gravitated toward more intense stuff like this band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BATTLE BORN")

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH: (Singing) Every day a castaway, a vagabond battle born.

GREENBERG: Five Finger Death Punch - so you could tell even the difference within the names of the artist and titles of the songs.

INSKEEP: Mr. Greenberg says the results could help streaming services match listeners with songs or improve music therapy or even help people learn more about themselves.

GREENBERG: It's suggesting that there's aspects of the self and aspects of our, say, cognition that may be influencing our musical choices that we're unaware of.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHT MOVES")

BOB SEGER: (Singing) Working on our night moves, trying to make some front page drive-in news.

GREENE: Ah, Bob Seger's "Night Moves." Steve, do you like this song?

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

GREENE: It's a good way to start our workday.

INSKEEP: Makes me an empathizer maybe?

GREENE: I don't - sure, let's go with that.

INSKEEP: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHT MOVES")

SEGER: (Singing) In the sweet summertime, we weren't in love, oh, no, far from it. We were searching for some pie in the sky summit. We were just young and restless and bored.

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