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Music training, cognition, and personality

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music training, music lessons, cognition, personality, individual differences

Abstract (summary)

Although most studies that examined associations between music training and cognitive abilities had correlational designs, the prevailing bias is that music training causes improvements in cognition. It is also possible, however, that high-functioning children are more likely than other children to take music lessons, and that they also differ in personality. We asked whether individual differences in cognition and personality predict who takes music lessons and for how long. The participants were 118 adults (Study 1) and 167 10- to 12-year-old children (Study 2). We collected demographic information and measured cognitive ability and the Big Five personality dimensions. As in previous research, cognitive ability was associated with musical involvement even when demographic variables were controlled statistically. Novel findings indicated that personality was associated with musical involvement when demographics and cognitive ability were held constant, and that openness-to-experience was the personality dimension with the best predictive power. These findings reveal that: (1) individual differences influence who takes music lessons and for how long, (2) personality variables are at least as good as cognitive variables at predicting music training, and (3) future correlational studies of links between music training and non-musical ability should account for individual differences in personality.

Publication Information

Corrigall K. A., Schellenberg, E. G., & Misura, N. M. (2013). Music training, cognition, and personality. Frontiers in Psychology, 4:222. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00222


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Attribution (CC BY)