Are we friendly but irresponsible?

Apparently we are seen as friendly and emotionally stable people, but with a limited sense of responsibility. This is how perusers of musical preferences and lists on social networking sites view lovers of jazz, according to a university study.

Here is the story from the Press Association:

Dr Jason Rentfrow, of Cambridge University, said musical preferences and lists of favourite bands on profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace were “clear public statements of who we are and how we should be perceived, whether we are conscious of that or not”.

Sample groups of subjects regularly made the same assumptions about people’s personalities, values, social class and even their ethnicity, based on their musical preferences, he said.

Jazz fans were viewed as friendly, emotionally stable people with a limited sense of responsibility, while rap fans were viewed as more hostile, but energetic and athletic, the research found.

Classical music was linked to white, upper-class people and rap to black or mixed-race people from lower class backgrounds.

Dr Rentfrow, of the university’s department of social and developmental psychology, said: “Humans, as social beings, develop techniques that help them to predict what another person is going to be like from the moment they first meet.

“Because we can’t carry out a full psychological assessment on the spot, we ask them questions which help us to build up a picture of their personality.

“This research suggests that, even though our assumptions may not be accurate, we get a very strong impression about someone when we ask them what music they like.”

The study is the subject of a new short film, The Music In Me, produced as part of the Cambridge Ideas series marking the university’s 800th anniversary.

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