London, Oct 15 IANS | 2 years ago

Not many of us may notice it but our choice of music also undergoes a change with the passage of time, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have observed how humans' musical tastes undergo change over a lifetime. They noticed that it is actually intrinsically linked to personality and experience.

Having collected data of about a quarter of a million people over a decade, researchers describe it as the first study to "comprehensively document" the ways people engage with music "from adolescence to middle age".

The study found that the first great musical age is adolescence - which is defined by a short, sharp burst of "intense" and the start of a steady climb of "contemporary".

"Teenage years are often dominated by the need to establish identity, and music is a cheap, effective way to do this," Jason Rentfrow, a senior researcher related to the study said.

"Adolescents' quest for independence often takes the shape of a juxtaposed stance to the perceived 'status quo', that of parents and the establishment," Rentfrow said.

"Intense' music, seen as aggressive, tense and characterised by loud, distorted sounds has the rebellious connotations that allow adolescents to stake a claim for the autonomy that is one of this period's key 'life challenges," he added.

Rentfrow said once people overcome the need for autonomy, the next life challenge concerns finding love and being loved.

As we settle down and middle-age begins to creep in, the last musical age, as identified by the researchers, is dominated by "sophisticated" kind of music -- such as jazz and classical -- and "unpretentious" -- such as country, folk and blues.

For the study, the researchers divided musical genres into five broad "empirically derived" categories, they call the Music model -- such as mellow, unpretentious, sophisticated, intense, contemporary - and plotted the patterns of preference across age-groups.

They divided these five categories into numerous common musical and psychological traits -- such as loudness and complexity.

The study has been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

(Posted on 15-10-2013)