Music study identifies the tracks that make us open to new experiences

VIVA Team | 12th March 2019

Adults who listened to reggae and classical music as children are more likely to be open to trying new foods, sports, fashions and books as they grow up, a leading psychologist has claimed.


Catherine Loveday of Westminster University in London came to the conclusion after studying the results of O2’s research of 2,000 adults into the extent to which music affects behaviour later on in life.


She suggests adults who are exposed to a wide array of music during their formative years end up with a greater desire to broaden their social and culinary boundaries.


Heavy metal and soul music are least likely to contribute to a willingness to participate in anything new.


The research found more than a quarter of those whose parents regularly listened to reggae were open to trying new things, compared to one fifth of those who were exposed to classical music.


However, by contrast just four per cent of adults who listened to heavy metal and soul at a young age said they are now open to being adventurous and experimental.


Prof. Loveday, a music psychologist, said: “Music is a very fundamental way for parents to connect with their children so it is not surprising that musical tastes get passed on.


‘’But it is interesting to think that listening habits might also nurture open-mindedness and flexibility, as well as a yearning for live music.


“We have known for a while that exposing young children to lots of new foods will help them to develop a more adventurous palate and it looks like the same thing might be true of music”.


The study also found the age at which people experience their first live gig also has a big impact on their attitudes to new activities.


Children who went to their first gig aged between four and six years old are much more open to trying new things now (33 per cent) than those who attended a musical festival or concert over the age of 22 (nine per cent).


They are also more likely to want to attend regular gigs as they get older, with four in five (81%) of those going to gigs before seven wishing they could attend live music at least once a month now.


Conversely only a third (34%) of those who waited until they were over 22 are keen to regularly attend live music events.


Further to impacts on behaviour, the research also revealed that continuing to listen to this wide breath of music as we get older increasingly has less of an impact on our characteristics.


In fact, the research revealed that after 35, interests in hearing new music genres is on the decline.


People are most receptive to different genres and sounds between the ages of 24 and 35, with nearly half (45%) in that age group saying they are now very happy to listen to the same music as their parents, after which they become less inclined to listen to new music.


Range of music listened to when younger also has an impact on the music you’re most likely to listen to in later life.


Those who listened to a diverse range of music growing up, are most likely to listen to hip hop, drum and bass and reggae.


Nina Bibby of O2 said: “Music connects us on an emotional level so it’s perhaps no surprise to see that the music we listen to growing up shapes our approach and attitude to other aspects of our life.


“There’s nothing quite like live music to make you feel alive and we want to encourage people to seize the moment and breathe it all in. ‘’


* The research was carried out by OnePoll as part of O2’s Live Experiences campaign, which encourages consumers to ‘Breathe It All In’ by seizing the moment to watch their favourite music, artist or band.


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