How Our Musical Tastes Change as We Age

Fagjun | Published 2017-07-13 00:50

What kind of music do you listen to?

Scientists have discovered the way our musical tastes evolve over time. Surprisingly, it's almost exactly what we may expect.

Think back on the music you liked as a young teenager. It's okay if you cringe. What made you like that kind of music back then? What kind of music do you like now, and why? Did your tastes change, and if so, in what ways? It turns out that scientists have found a trend in the ways our tastes in music change. Interestingly, it seems that our tastes mirror the changes we go through as we grow into adulthood.

Here we'll be looking at two particular studies that explore the evolution of individual tastes in music. Both emphasize that our musical tastes grow and change along with us. However, these studies have some differences that ma bear some examination.

The First Study

In the first study, researchers say that as teenagers, we tend to listen to what's popular at the time. We begin to lose interest in the music we usually listen to when we're in our twenties up to our early thirties. At around age 33, we may lose interest in the music we used to listen to entirely. Men also tend to stop listening to popular music earlier than women do.

Ajay Kalia at Spotify provided the data for the study. He looked at the music that Spotify users listened to in 2014 and cross-referenced the data with the users' age and the popularity of the musicians they listened to. These findings show that as we get older, it may become more difficult for us to keep up with what's hip.

With so many kinds of music, we luckily have a pick of what fits our personalities, tastes, and experiences the most.

The Second Study

The second study tells us that our musical tastes correspond to whatever life stage we're in at the time. Whatever music we like fulfills our social and psychological needs. Of course, these needs change as we grow older, and therefore, so does the music we like listening to.

Researchers theorize that we first start listening to music as teenagers. At this point in our lives, we're trying to solidify our identity and find where we belong in society. Later on, we use music to establish our social group and to find a partner. After this stage, our taste in music becomes more personal, individual, and intellectual.

Life Stages and Musical Tastes

The way our tastes in music change says a lot about us.

There some differences between the findings in these two studies. In the first study, researchers claim that teenagers prefer to listen to what's popular. We can surmise that at this stage in life, teenagers generally want to fit in with everyone else. However, the second study has a different take on what kinds of music teenagers like. Researchers say that teenagers generally listen more to “intense” music, like metal or punk. Eventually, when the teenagers grow to early adulthood, they tend to be more partial to pop and rap.

The second study may be on to something. Teenagers are at a stage in life when they're trying to define who they are. They are also coming into their own and becoming more autonomous. Music that sounds aggressive and even somewhat rebellious reflects this.

Though these studies do have some different findings, the point is that our musical tastes do reflect and change with our age.

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