Formal-informal musical learning, sex and musicians’ personalities

Dawn C. Rose, Alice Jones Bartoli, Pamela Heaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Research has suggested that differences in personality traits among western musicians, in comparison to the general population, may be related to gender. For example, studies suggest male classical musicians are 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. This study investigated similarities and differences between formal/informal musical learning, gender 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 (n = 74), formally taught (n = 62), or a mixture of the two (n = 139). A comparison of two brief inventories (TIPI and BFI-10) provided reliability and validity. Contrary to previous research, no gender differences were found for the trait of Extraversion. Group differences according to formal/informal learning styles were apparent. Higher levels of Conscientiousness were associated with formal music learning. Overall musicians had higher levels of Openness to Experience than population norms. Further research will be required to understand whether this is an artifact of access and provision to music education, or a systematic personality difference among musicians.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date14 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jul 2018


  • Conscientiousness
  • Creativity
  • Extraversion
  • Formal/informal musical learning
  • Gender
  • Musicians
  • Openness to experience
  • Personality


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