You are what you eat: music and personality

So... Ludwig Feuerbach WAS right after all! You may recall (or not) that Feuerbach was the 19th century German theology student who became enraptured with Hegel and eventually came to write a creative materialist critique of Christianity (The Essence of Christianity, 1841). In fact, brother Ludwig was an important early influence upon both Marx and Engels in their more cultural/philosophical days.

And the heart of their collective critique was: you are what you eat! That is, culture and context are essential ingredients in understanding how we think, perceive and act in the world.

And now along comes a study out of the University of Edinburgh based upon the replies of 36,000 people re: their favorite music and their personalities and what do you know? "People who listen to indie bands are miserable shaggy-haired layabouts, while fans of rap music are bold, brash and brimming with self-confidence. Rather than mere narrow- minded stereotyping, these are the results of an extensive psychological survey of more than 36,000 music lovers, which confirms, once and for all, that our musical tastes really do reflect our personality.
But the study's most remarkable discovery is that refined lovers of classical music share a high number of personality traits with those who prefer rocking out to heavy metal." (

What's more, the study suggests that there are some important commonalities between those who would think themselves opponents on the surface:

Indie: Devotees have low self-esteem and are not very hard-working, kind or generous. However, they are creative.
Rock 'n' Roll: Fans have high self-esteem and are very creative, hard-working and at ease with themselves, but not very kind or generous.

Blues: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease with themselves.

Classical: Classical music lovers have high self-esteem, are creative and at ease with themselves, but not outgoing.

Heavy metal: Very creative and at ease with themselves, but not very outgoing or hard-working.

Reggae: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, kind, generous and at ease with themselves, but not very hard-working.

Country & Western: Very hard-working and outgoing.

Dance: Creative and outgoing but not kind or generous.

Rap: High self-esteem, outgoing.

Now, if I could just put together a blended band of country and western and classical musicians with a little rock and roll and blues sensibilities, I think we could find a way through these culture wars! Oh, wait... that's what I'm already doing. Hmmmmm...


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