what our favorite songs say about us


  • Among the musical preferences of participants in the four attachment categories, some artists returned more than others: the anxious category particularly appreciated Adele, Bruno Mars or Drake.
  • The mixed category (half clingy and half distant) particularly favored Taylor Swift, Rihanna or Carrie Underwood.
  • The distant category tended more to Beyoncé, Chris Brown or The Weeknd, while the confident category favored Sonny & Cher, Whitney Houston or Ed Sheeran.

In a new study published in the journal Personal relationshipsDr. Ravin Alaei and his colleagues in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto have found that the way people deal with their attachment to others matches the content of their favorite song lyrics.

We tend to prefer music with lyrics that describe what we go through in our daily relationships, for better or for worse.

Your favorite songs reveal things about your relationship experiences

“The lyrics of your favorite relationship songs can help validate your thoughts and feelings, but they can also reveal things about your relationship experiences that you may not have realized – something that you go through repeatedly, that you keep bumping into.”Ravin Alaei explained in a press release.

Each person can be classified into four categories depending on how they relate to others, as the doctor explains.

The first category is people who become attached to anxiety. The latter fear being rejected and try a lot to be reassured about their relationships. The second: people who attack with distance. They are more independent, tend to have a lot of negative apprehension about their relationships, and show little emotion. People with mixed attachment styles have mixed expectations, they can sometimes be clingy as well as cold. Finally, there are people who are more confident in their attachment to others: they have a more optimistic view of relationships, are open to communication and trust their partner.

“We asked about 570 people to give us their favorite songs, then we analyzed the nearly 7,000 songs to reveal what the lyrics said about relationships and attachment to others. We have consistently found that people who attach at a distance prefer the music that talks about avoiding “explains Ravin Alaei.

The connection between music and attachment style is reflected on a social level

“I expected to see a clear relationship between anxious people and anxious songs because they are the most emotional, but surprisingly this was the mildest result.”He adds.

This connection is reflected not only on an individual level, but also on a social level. In a second study, researchers coded more than 800 Billboard number one hits from 1946 to 2015 for attachment-related themes and found that lyrics became more distant and suspicious of relationships over time. “Popular musical lyrics parallel the sociological tendencies of social disconnection: people appreciate independence from dependence on others and feel more isolated”analyzes Ravin Alaei.

But if we listen to music that reflects our relationships, could it help or hinder our interpersonal skills? This is the question Ravin Alaei and her colleagues will investigate in their next research.

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