It’s no secret that having similar interests to your partner’s can help in the early stages of a relationship. The more you have in common, the easier it is for conversation to flow. Those toe-curling we-have-nothing-to-talk-about moments are easier to avoid if you have a mutual love of skydiving or classical music.
Music is something that can unite a couple even if nothing else seems to stack up — and that’s hardly a revelation. But a new test being devised by British psychologists may give you a deeper insight into your date’s personality. A secret love of Bieber or penchant for angry rock aside, what does a person’s iTunes action say about their general characteristics?
Researchers at Cambridge University, England, are still developing the test, but so far the results are pretty interesting.
They’ve found that those who favor romantic, relaxing, slow, mellow music, such as soft rock and certain types of R & B, fall into the “empathizers” category, meaning they are skilled in understanding the thoughts and feelings of others.
“Systemizers,” on the other hand, are drawn to more sophisticated, intense, energetic music, like traditional jazz and classical genres, appreciating it for its structural qualities. This type of person is analytical, interested in critical thinking and likely to pursue a career in math or science.
IRL, if you enjoy listening to sad music more than your date does, you may be an empathizer, while they are a systemizer.
David Greenberg, one of the Cambridge psychologists who has questioned thousands of people about their musical tastes, told CNN, “People who are high on empathy may be preferring a certain type of music compared to people who are more systematic.
“[Systemizers] are focusing more on the instrumental elements, seeing how the music is mixing together. It’s almost like a musical puzzle that they’re putting together.”
People who took the test answered questions about their current mood, personality traits (descriptors included “extroverted,” “critical,” “anxious,” “sympathetic” and “reserved”), the way they read and control their emotions, and the role — if any — music plays in their life. They then listened to 25 excerpts of music, ranging from rock to smooth jazz to electronic, and rated how much they enjoyed them.
They also answered questions about mental health, general life satisfaction and any major event that has disrupted their life in the last three years.
According to Greenberg, all these factors combined influence what kind of music people listen to.
“We are seeking music that reflects who we are, so that includes personality, that includes the way we think, and it may even be the way our brain is wired,” he said.
Ultimately what draws us to people — both romantically and in other ways — goes beyond musical taste and even personality types. It’s why people fall for someone who is the complete opposite of the person they always expected to end up with. That can’t-put-your-finger-on-it feeling that is just there.
Talking about music on a first date is always a good icebreaker, though. Best to know about that Bieber fetish from the get-go, right?