Your music genre preferences are not accidental.
Countless psychological studies and surveys have shown that there is an undeniable link between a person’s musical preferences and their personality. You can use that finding and your own musical preferences to find the right style of music to boost your productivity.
How to Find the Right Style of Music to Boost Your Productivity
When it comes to using the right music to boost your productivity, you shouldn’t necessarily look to your favorite music genre – sometimes, the best mix for productivity is a genre you enjoy but don’t love.
Before reading further, it’s helpful to grab a sheet of paper or open up a new document and write down your music genre preferences. Be honest! You only get accurate results if you put in accurate information.
What you’ll be doing is writing down the music genres and how much you like or dislike them – use a scale of 1-5 to make it easier. Below, we’ll show you which music genres will boost your productivity based on your preferences.
For reference, here are the included music genres: Country, classical, alternative, rock, heavy metal, jazz, hip hop, rap, blues, soul, funk, dance, electronica, soundtracks, religious contemporary, gospel, punk, pop
If you’d like to take a quick quiz that determines your music genre and personality preferences, we recommend the Do-Re-Mi’s of Personality Test from the University of Texas at Austin. You can find the quiz here – just make sure to leave this tab open so you can make sense of the results you get!
Quick note about the research
Jason Rentfrow of the University of Texas at Austin and Samuel Gosling, PhD, collected data on the music listening preferences of several thousand people using a new scale: the Short Test of Music Preferences (STOMP).
STOMP includes 4 categories of music listening preferences:
Reflective and complex – Classical, jazz, blues, folk
Intense and rebellious – Alternative, rock, heavy metal, punk
Upbeat and conventional – Country, religious, soundtracks, theme music, pop
Energetic and rhythmic – Dance, electronica, funk, hip hop, rap, soul
If your music genre preferences are mostly reflective and complex, you can benefit from a productivity boost when listening to upbeat and conventional music, like country, pop, soundtracks, religious contemporary, or theme songs.
That might seem counter-intuitive, but that’s why it works! Listen to non-preferred genres of music to boost your productivity. Your brain is used to melancholy, serious, or finely-tuned classical sounds. Switching things up by playing pop or your favorite movie soundtrack will help you work more efficiently.
Don’t like reflective and complex music genres much? People with low R&C music preferences tend to be:
- Physically active
- Traditional, conservative
- Prefer straightforward to complex
- Enjoy sitcoms, comedies, action, and children’s movies
People that enjoy the edgy and aggressive music genres like alternative, heavy metal, rock, and punk are risk-takers and pleasure-seekers. Edgy and aggressive music lovers tend to be:
- Dominant, independent
- Imaginative, creative
- Energetic, prone to excitement
- Politically liberal
- Enjoy action, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies
If edgy and aggressive music genres are your favorite, your productivity fuel is Energetic and Rhythmic music. Your own pre-disposal to excitement and action will make you vibe along with music from the E&R genres: Dance, hip hop, funk, soul, etc.
Don’t like Edgy and Aggressive music? People with low E&A preferences tend to be:
- Low-energy, homebodies
- Critical thinkers, logical
- Politically conservative
- Prefer rules and facts
Fun and simple music genres include Pop, Religious, Country, and Soundtrack music. If these are your preferences, researchers predict your personality has these traits:
- Extrovert tendencies
- Conventional, social
- Conservative values
- Enjoy comedies, romance, documentaries, and action
Your productivity-boosting music genre is Reflective and Complex. Classical, jazz, blues, and folk music will provide non-distracting background noise for you to listen to while getting work done. If you try listening to your own favorite music style, you may well find yourself distracted (and singing along). The R&C genres will help you focus.
Don’t like Fun and Simple music genres? These descriptors may apply to you:
- Introvert tendencies
- Unconventional, artistic
- Liberal values
- Enjoy suspense, cult movies, and foreign films
People that prefer Energetic and Upbeat music genres tend to enjoy Hip-hop, Rap, Funk, Soul, and Electronic music. Other personality traits E&U lovers often show:
- Big picture oriented
- Politically liberal
For productivity boosts, try listening to Edgy and Aggressive music genres, like alternative, rock, punk, or heavy metal. Because they are not your preferred musical genres, these music styles will appeal to your brain in a way that makes it easier for you to focus and get work done.
Don’t like Energetic and Upbeat music genres? People that don’t like these genres tend to be:
- Detail oriented
- Practical and ambitious
- Enjoy romance, classic films, and westerns