Why People like Different Styles of Music


Whatever song a person plays is highly likely to cause his or her brain to release dopamine. The brain releases this same chemical when a person takes drugs, has sex, or takes delicious food. On the same measure, when a person plays a song that he or she enjoys listening to, the chemical is released. In a scenario where an individual chooses a tune that he or she likes from a particular genre, the question is how quickly the person will like the new song. In this case, what are the factors that make up a person’s brain to appreciate a specific song?

To answer this question, one of the radical views is that the music preference of a person is random. This view accounts for the notion that the arbitrary, subjective experience of a person can make him or her dislike a song. The other view is that the music choice of a person is a reflection of their personality. The latter reasoning is close to explaining why people like a particular style of music.

Psychological functions

The psychological functions of music are broad. However, a person prefers a particular style of music if it serves the listed mental purposes:

  • To improve how they perform different tasks. For instance, a person is likely to choose classical music, such as Mozart music, when reading. Their choice might be explained by the fact that the type of music increases their concentration.
  • Other people choose to listen to a style of music for stimulating their intellectual curiosity.
  • People prefer a particular style of music to manipulate their emotional states. Their objective is to achieve a desired state of mind, such as happiness or excitement

The mood states of people relate to their personality. Since music relates to the regulation of a person’s emotion, they would choose to use music to regulate their feelings. A scientific understanding of a person’s preference for a particular style of music should be regarded as the perfect explanation of their personality. The explanations state that the music choice reveals the connections between the persons surrounding and the ‘pleasure center’ of his or her brain.

Personality provisions

Results from scientific studies are counterintuitive. In this case, a person does not have to be a scientist to understand that aggressive individuals prefer music genres such as Heavy Metal while rebellious people like listening to Rock and Hip Hop. These examples could be used to give a person’s informal profile, based on the kind of music they listen to. At best, the guess might be accurate. Most people engage in this type of profiling. For instance, when visiting a person, it is possible to tell their personality based on their favorite playlist or their music collection. There is a high likelihood that the judgment might be correct.

Valorie Salimpoor’s Experiment

Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist, used the MRI in her experiment for tracking the brain activity of study participants while they were listening to different genres of music. From her tests, the neuroscientist discovered that there are connections between the pleasure centers in the brain of a person and the surrounding regions of the brain. The results revealed the time a person spends to listen to a specific genre of music. Her experiments showed that people choose to listen to a given style of music over others based on the extent to which the music stimulates the person’s pleasure center in the brain. The pleasure is derived from the release of dopamine.

The experiment also indicated that people undergo different phases of music preferences. A simple explanation for this is that the environment can influence the style of music a person listens to. Music is regarded as a social tool derived from a specific culture. For this reason, the surrounding can influence the musical style a person prefers due to their exposure to it.

As shown, psychological and scientific reasons could be used to explain why people like different of music. The psychological reasons focus on the mood of the listener, whereas the scientific reasons focus on the release of dopamine after listening to a particular style of music. However, an important function of music is emotional. In this case, the style of music that a person prefers listening to could be used to explain his or her emotional state, personality, social environment, and cultural background.

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