Monday, 11 August 2014

What your choice of driving music says about you

This post was written by a freelance writer.

If you are a music lover, you most probably have all sorts of music players in your car. If you’re new to driving you’re probably relishing in having a car stereo system, a car radio, or a CD player, with ample ports to connect a USB drive or an MP3 player. You most probably have the latest speaker system installed as well.

Some drivers like listening to music while driving. Some listen to classical piano melodies, some to jazz and blues, while others tune in to the radio for the latest pop tunes. What does your driving music say about your personality?

Driving music preferences and your personality

Music psychology expert Adrian North of Edinburgh’s Heriott-Watt University conducted a study to learn the correlation between personality types and their music tastes. Professor North’s study involved 36,000 people scattered across the globe in more than 60 countries. The study rated the participants in terms of self-esteem, creativity, outgoing behaviour, gentleness, ease of disposition, and being hardworking.

The results of his study found that there is a strong correlation between personality and music preference. For example, blues fans are found to have high self-esteem, an outgoing personality, creativity, gentleness, and they are normally at ease. Jazz fans in comparison are all that minus the gentleness. Classical music fans are introverted, creative, at ease, and with high self-esteem. Rap fans are outgoing with high self-esteem. Rock and heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, not hardworking, not outgoing, but are creative, gentle, and at ease. Chart pop fans are hardworking, gentle, and have high self-esteem. However, they are not at ease, nor creative. Soul fans are creative, gentle, outgoing, at ease, and have high self-esteem. 

Music and Driving safety

As music clearly shows our personalities, the question is whether it affects our driving practices as well. Pop culture suggests that reckless driving is correlated with playing blaring loud rock music or heavy metal songs. In comparison, gentle and safe drivers are portrayed as playing classical music or some ballads. Nonetheless, playing music in the car is considered as a distractive practice that can lead to accidents while driving in the motorways.

The researchers of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel sought to clarify the issue. The study involved 85 teenage drivers with their newly-minted driving licences. Each teen is to take six trips lasting 40 minutes each. All the trips will be supervised by a driving instructor or one of the researchers. For two trips, the driver will be playing music from their own music collection. For the other two trips, the researchers will be playing light rock, easy listening, or some light jazz in the background. For the final two trips, no music will be played inside the car. 

The data showed that a whopping 98% committed driving errors (average of three errors) while listening to their own music. Not far behind, of the drivers who listened to no music at all, 92% committed driving errors. Surprisingly, when the drivers were playing the music supplied by the researchers, they committed 20% less driving errors. These errors include tailgating, careless lane switching, speeding, and one-handed driving.

Results suggest that even though music is strongly correlated with our personalities, perhaps we can make an exception and play light music while driving for a safer trip.


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