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Listening to gospel music 'unexpectedly' linked to several maladaptive traits
Before you judge someone's personality based in their playlist, you may want to read the results of this study.
- New research predicts links between music and film preferences and recent models of unhealthy and psychopathic personality traits.
- A study on 379 participants found that conservative music tastes and a preference for faith-based movies that were the most strongly correlated to dysfunctional personality traits.
- Psychopathy's component of "boldness" corresponded to enjoyment of rhythmic beats, like R&B and party music.
New research suggests that certain music and film preferences may indicate psychopathy and other dysfunctional personality traits. And they're probably not the kinds of songs and movies you would predict.
Media use is a kind of expression of identity. So it's no wonder that our preferences reveal something about our personality traits. A recent study, published in the journal Psychology of Music on August 13, linked maladaptive personality traits and psychopathy to music and movie genre preferences. Surprisingly, it was conservative music tastes and a preference for faith-based movies that were, "unexpectedly," the most strongly correlated to dysfunctional personality traits. So if you love rap or heavy metal, you're in the clear.
In the study, 379 participants completed three questionnaires to gauge their musical tastes, movie preferences, personality characteristics, and psychopathic tendencies. This was done using the Personality Inventory DSM-5, the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure, and questionnaires about music and film preferences.
What our music tastes reveal about our personalities
The study drew on earlier influential research that broke up music genre preference to four to six measurable factors: intense/rebellious, upbeat/conventional and energetic/rhythmic. It also factored in additional research that conceptualized five factors in music: mellow, unpretentious, sophisticated, intense, and contemporary. This research linked normal personality traits to certain music tastes using the five-factor model, which measures personality on the characteristics of openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
Openness, which is characterized by curiosity and appreciation for varied experiences, consistently predicted eclectic preferences in diverse music, particularly avant-garde genres. An extraverted personality is linked to preferences for fast-paced, energetic music. Agreeableness, which reflects empathy and cooperativeness, correlated with an ear for party music and popular genres like pop and hip-hop.
Abnormal personalities and media preferences
This new study sought to build on previous research to predict links between music and film preferences and recent models of unhealthy and malicious personality traits.
"This is important because valid models of personality should allow us to predict not only mental health and other health outcomes, but also day-to-day activities, like the kind of music and movies people enjoy," Blagov, an author of the study, told PsyPost.
To link music and film preferences to unhealthy psychological traits, the researchers created a model that fits maladaptive traits into the five-factor personality scales.
One finding was that people who are abnormally withdrawn do not dig energizing, upbeat, party music (measured by the "rhythmic" factor). They also tend not to enjoy intense, over-stimulating movies such as those from the horror and thriller genres. Another finding was that people whose thoughts spiral into the strange, odd, and eccentric reported enjoying a wide-range of music and movies. This was true, also, of people who self-identified as portraying the dark narcissistic and psychopathic traits of fearlessness and dominance.
Contrary to previous research, the study found no links between so-called "problem" music genres, such as heavy metal, punk, alternative rock, hip-hop, and rap, and dysfunctional personality traits. One explanation could be that this music has become more mainstream, and so it is less genuinely "rebellious" as it once was. Surprising the researchers, it was conservative music (like country and gospel genres) and faith-based movies that were the most clearly linked to neurotic, hostile, and unusually eccentric tendencies.
This came as something of a shock to the researchers because, as they note, historical research had linked religiosity to "desirable" responses and mental health.
Can you spot a psychopath through their music and film tastes?Giphy
One of the primary goals of this research was to link psychopathy to music and movie preferences. Psychopathy is a malevolent, unhealthy combination of characteristics that include superficial charm, egocentricity, grandiosity, lack of empathy, insincerity, manipulativeness, recklessness, and unreliability. These unfortunate traits predisposes these individuals to antisocial behavior. Darkest of the "dark triad of personality," psychopathy is thought to encompass three components:
- Boldness or "fearlessness dominance" (adventure seeking and low stress reactivity)
- Disinhibition (impulsivity and a lack of constraining behavior when confronted, angered or upset)
- Meanness (emotional callousness)
In this study, and as previously reported, psychopathy's component "boldness" corresponded to enjoyment of rhythmic beats, like R&B and party tunes. But, interestingly, there was no link between the hostile traits antagonism, disinhibition and meanness with intense or particularly rebellious music. Similarly, psychopathic characteristics did not relate to a love for horror movies.
So, if you're an avid fan of heavy metal or rave music, you're probably not a psychopath. But you might exhibit some risk-taking behavior.
While the correlations between certain personalities and entertainment preferences were small, the authors say that they matter for gasping day-to-day, real-life manifestations of unhealthy or dark personality traits.
But, tempting as it might be, the authors of the study warn against using music and movie preferences to guess at a friend's (or foe's) potential psychopathology — as if their music and film preferences are subtle indicators of a twisted personality.
Why? The correlations simply aren't strong enough to use in clinical inference. Their taste in music may indicate psychopathy — or, it may just be white noise.
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- Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth.
- After birth, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain: the olfactory bulb (which is responsible for our sense of smell) and the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and emotional processing).
- Research from the 1960s proves creating new neurons as adults is possible, and modern-day research explains how (and why) we should promote new neuron growth.
Two parts of the brain can continue growing through neurogenesis<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTAwODc1MH0.4GDLlZmkwuD0-pJ0s0UWcUoYXMy95a-AM61a_QAlAeA/img.jpg?width=980" id="2e77e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4e23499fdf3b2185533979083fd02db7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="brain made of twigs and plants concept of neurogenesis" />
Neurogenesis is still possible well into adulthood in two very important parts of the human brain.
Image by EtiAmmos on Shutterstock<p>Although most people are aware that aging or bad habits such as heavy alcohol use can contribute to the deterioration of our brains, not many of us give thought to how we can generate new brain cells.</p><p>Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth. </p><p><strong>After birth, however, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain:</strong></p><ul><li>The olfactory bulb, which is a structure of the forebrain that's responsible for our sense of smell. </li><li>The hippocampus, which is a structure of the brain located within the temporal lobe (just above your ears) - this area is important for learning, memory, regulation, of emotions and spatial navigation. </li></ul><p>Of course, when this information first came to light <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13860748" target="_blank">back in the 1960s</a>, the next natural question was: How do we promote neurogenesis in those areas where it's still possible? </p><p>Researchers today believe there are activities you can do (some of them may be things you already do on a daily basis) that can promote neurogenesis in your brain. </p><p><strong>Why is it important to promote the growth of new neurons in adulthood?</strong></p><p>We produce an estimated 700 million neurons per day in the hippocampus - this means by the time we reach the age of 50, we will have exchanged the neurons we were born within that area of the brain with new (adult-generated) neurons. </p><p>If we don't promote this exchange with the growth of new neurons, we may block certain abilities these new neurons help us with (such as keeping our memory sharp, for example). </p>
4 ways to promote neurogenesis in your brain<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTE3NjczNH0.qyzh_AIUPKfaQIa1QEq4yTNCAAK9nYkH3HFV9vWXwww/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C104&height=700" id="64a68" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee1307fe2dd61ae425552da56db3c5ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="child playing trumpet concept of learning a new instrument neurogenesis" />
Learning a new instrument helps promote neurogenesis.
Photo by DenisProduction.com on Shutterstock<p><strong>Intermittent fasting</strong></p><p><a href="https://law.stanford.edu/2015/01/09/lawandbiosciences-2015-01-09-intermittent-fasting-try-this-at-home-for-brain-health/" target="_blank">A 2015 Stanford study</a> examined the link between <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting#section1" target="_blank">intermittent fasting</a> and neurogenesis. Calorie restriction and fasting can not only increase synaptic plasticity and promote neuron growth but it can also decrease your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and boost cognitive function. </p><p><u>Two of the most common ways you can intermittently fast are: </u></p><ul><li>16 hours per day every day - this is a method where you are able to eat for an 8 hour period of the day and fast for 16 hours of the day. Many people begin their "fast" after dinner, pushing their morning meal far enough towards lunch that most of their "off" eating time happens while they are asleep anyways. </li></ul><ul><li>24 hours every week - this is a method where once a week you fast for an entire day. Some people prefer this method because the rest of the week can resume as normal - but for many, this is a difficult way to fast. </li></ul><p><strong>Traveling to new places</strong></p><p>While traveling is something many of us enjoy — scenic routes and new fun experiences — these things also promote neurogenesis while we're on vacation. <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-xpm-2014-01-28-sc-trav-0128-travel-mechanic-20140128-story.html" target="_blank">Paul Nussbaum</a>, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, explains that the mental benefits of traveling are very clear.<br></p><p><em>"When you expose your brain to an environment that's novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts. Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites (dangling extensions) which grow the brain's capacity." </em></p><p><strong>Learning a new instrument</strong></p><p>The mental health benefits of music have long been studied, but did you know that learning a new instrument can promote new neuron growth? </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996135/" target="_blank">this 2010 study</a>, learning to play a new musical instrument is an intense, multisensory motor experience that requires that acquisition and maintenance of skills over your entire lifetime - which of course, promotes the new formation of new neural networks. </p><p>When is the best time to begin learning a new instrument? Childhood, of course. </p><p><em>"Learning to play a new musical instrument in childhood can result in long-lasting changes in brain organization," </em>according to the study mentioned above. </p><p>While learning an instrument in adulthood will also promote neurogenesis, children who began training with a musical instrument before the age of 7 have shown that they have a significantly larger corpus callosum (the area of the brain the allows communication between the two hemispheres of the brain) than many adults. </p><p><strong>Reading novels</strong></p><p>A study from <a href="http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-novel-look-at-how-stories-may-change.html" target="_blank">Emory University</a> showed there was an increase in ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading the same (fiction) novel. </p><p>In this study, enhanced brain activity was observed in the region that control physical sensations and movement. Reading a novel, according to lead researcher Gregory Berns, can transport you into the body of the protagonist. </p><p>This ability to shift into another mental state is a vital skill that promotes healthy neurogenesis in those areas of the brain. </p>
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