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Research on Musical Preferences has Everyday Implications

Recent research (e.g., such as that done by Kopacz in 2005, Vandergrift in 2013, Lind in 2014 and others) suggests that personality influences musical preferences and that musical preferences in turn impact (1) productivities, (2) convalescences, (3) retentions, and (4) entertainment choices. Each of these will be addressed in turn.

Focusing on productivities, work done in recent months and years has supported the notion that managers might want to assess personalities and “stream” production enhancing music to their workforce. In other words, they might wish to influence behaviors much like restaurants have been doing for many years. At one end of the spectrum, fast food operations often have fast paced music to encourage patrons to hurry up and eat so that more tables become available, while at the other end of the spectrum “Five Star Dining Establishments” have soothing, relaxing music (as well as comfortable seating) to encourage diners to hang out longer, enjoy more expensive wine and partake of exquisite, high-cost desserts.

However, unlike restaurant operators, managers wanting to increase productivities have a dilemma. On the one hand, they want workers to expeditiously complete tasks, while they, on the other hand, do not want skilled employees to become mistake prone or quick to take another job and leave their companies.

Switching to convalescences, the relationship between personality and musical preferences might make its way into hospital settings. Some personalities might have better convalescences, if they are exposed to upbeat music, while others might recover sooner if they are exposed to more soothing music. Supporting this possibility is the fact that research has already begun in terms of the role of music in hospice and palliative care for morbidly ill patients as noted by Vandergrift’s work last year.

Yet, a third way in which music has everyday implications is in terms of learning materials. For instance, some audio and instructional (e.g., learn a foreign language) DVD’s and/or CD’s have musical backgrounds. Possibly, those musical backgrounds help some personalities to learn better, but it also seems probable that they are also hindering the progress of others. Thus, the work being done on the relationship between music and personalities might lead to different versions of audio books and the like, with varying musical (including “no music”) options, in order to expedite “deeper learning” and “critical thinking abilities,” as suggested by the recent work of Lind earlier this year.

As for a final example of how the work being done on musical preferences and personalities may influence everyday life is in terms of the entertainment industries. Supposing a TV program wants to attract personalities of a particular type (e.g., shopaholics since advertisers will spend more heavily to reach them) they will likely want to have musical scores that attract shopaholics to their shows in much the same way as a sugar water solution attracts hummingbirds.