University of Hertfordshire

Informal and formal learning, sex and the personality of musicians.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Journal publication date13 Feb 2018
StateSubmitted - 13 Feb 2018


Previous studies have suggested classical musicians may be more introverted than popular musicians, though female musicians may be more extroverted than population norms. Contemporary musical learning can be formal and/or informal, and changes in music education may have impacted upon traditional gender based stereotypes. Therefore, this study investigates similarities and differences between formal/informal musical learning, sex and musicians’ personalities. The sample included 275 musicians (87 female, mean age 40.2 years, range 19-81, learning duration > 6 years). The participants were either self-taught (ST: n=74), formally taught (FT: n=62), or a mixture of the two (PT: n=139). A comparison of two brief inventories (TIPI and BFI-10) provided reliability and validity. Contrary to previous research, no sex differences were found for the trait of Extraversion. Inventories agreed overall that musicians had higher levels of Openness to Experience. However, group differences according to formal/informal learning styles were apparent for Neuroticism/Emotional Stability and Agreeableness. Whilst these findings suggest higher levels of Conscientiousness may be associated with classical western music training, this may be an artifact of access and provision in music education rather than a systematic personality difference amongst musicians.

ID: 10770277