Children who listen to reggae and classical music more likely to become open-minded, survey claims

Research finds experiencing live music early in life impacts attitudes to new activities

Emma Elsworthy
Thursday 14 March 2019 16:59
Reggae was the genre of music that made people most open to trying new things in adult life
Reggae was the genre of music that made people most open to trying new things in adult life

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 University of Westminster in London came to the conclusion after studying research by O2 which surveyed 2,000 adults on 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, while the same was true for 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 were now open to being adventurous and experimental.

Professor 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 had a big impact on their attitudes to new activities.

Children who went to their first gig aged between four and six years old were 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 were also more likely to want to attend regular gigs as they get older, with four in five (81 per cent) of those going to gigs before seven wishing they could attend live music at least once a month now.

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

In addition to its impact on behaviour, the research also revealed that continuing to listen to this wide breath of music as we got older increasingly had less of an impact on our characteristics.

In fact, the research via OnePoll revealed that after 35 years, interest in hearing new music genres declined

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

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.”


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