There’s a reason your grandparents still listen to Elvis, your mom still loves Bon Jovi, and you still have a strange affiliation with the crap bands you liked when you were 14.
A recent survey by the music streaming service Deezer asked 1,000 people in the UK about their musical preferences and their streaming habits. According to their findings, people tend to experience a “musical paralysis” at around the age of 30.5, whereby they stop listening to new artists or genres and tend to stick to what they know.
Musical discovery peaks at an average age of 24 years and five months, although women generally hit this peak around a year earlier. At this age, almost 75 percent of respondents said they checked out 10 or more new tracks per week, and 64 percent said they listened to five or more new artists every month. Around 60 percent of people feel like they are in a music rut and struggle to break out of playing the same old artists over and over again.
Sound familiar? This is just a small PR survey, but there seems to be some science behind the findings.
A handful of studies have noted how humans tend to be less open to experience as they age. One such study found that openness to experience tends to ramp up during our teenage years and then eventually decrease after our early twenties.
“Open to experience” is one of the Big Five Personality Traits. It denotes our sense of curiosity, our preference for variety, our appreciation of aesthetics, and our desire to experience unknown things. Since this trait appears to decline with age, it could explain why our music habits become more rigid as we get older.
There is possibly another factor at play. During our younger years, especially as teenagers, we are the most influenced by the music around us. In The New York Times, data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz wrote about how the songs that were popular in our teenage years, particularly between the ages of 11 to 14, tends to remain our most streamed songs on Spotify.
For example, women currently aged 41 seem to love the song “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, which was released when they were 11. Women aged 69 like the tune “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison, also released when they were 11. This trend can be found across ages and genders.
It appears that the ability of our musical preferences to be influenced peaks in these teenage years. This could be due to a peak in our openness to experience, or perhaps there’s an element of nostalgia for our reckless youth. Either way, this window seems to shut during the late twenties, after which we are doomed to listen to the same three bands until our dying days.
[H/T: Business Insider]
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