Adele or Usher? The Beatles or Drake? Taylor Swift or The Weeknd? Your favorite artists may reveal your view on relationships, according to a new study from the University of Toronto.
Researcher Ravin Alaei began investigating the role music plays in people’s lives, particularly on their relationship status.
“Since humans started making music tens of thousands of years ago, songs across cultures have always focused on relationships — getting into one, maintaining one or breaking up — so I wondered, do people listen to music that mirrors their experiences in relationships?” Alaei said in a media release.
The team found that individual attachment styles often correspond with the lyrics of one’s favorite songs. In other words, people often turn to music that articulates how they’re feeling about relationships in that moment.
“Lyrics matter, so pay attention to them,” Alaei explained. “The lyrics of your favorite songs about relationships may help validate your thoughts and feelings but may also reveal things about your experiences of relationships that you might not have realized — something that you’re going through repeatedly, that you keep coming up against.”
The team surveyed 570 people, asking them about their favorite songs. Then, they coded nearly 7,000 songs to four different attachment styles: anxiously attached, avoidantly attached, mixed attachment and secure.
By knowing what songs you are drawn to, Alaei argues, you can recognize behaviors in your relationships and potentially adjust negative views or reinforce positive ones. For example, if you find yourself listening to Adele’s anxiously attached themed song “Someone Like You,” you may be able to recognize some trouble-spots in your relationships that you can correct over time.
“As an anxious person, you should recognize that you’re vulnerable to a negative feedback loop, and your emotions snowballing,” Alaei said. “Music can be a very powerful exacerbator of that because it can stimulate deep emotions and memories, ultimately reinforcing your worries.”