Music Paper on Music Dictates Who Our Friends Are

Music Paper on Music Dictates Who Our Friends Are

Music has no boundaries. This is an attribute that makes it to be known as a cross-cultural universal activity. It can be found in every human culture being used for different purposes. Today, musicians are adored for their ability to produce music that moves masses around the world. It is something that even future generations will come to appreciate at their respective time. To say the least, music is appreciated by all generations. However, music is composed of different genre. Some people will prefer one type of music genre over another. This is to say that people demonstrate different music preferences. Relatively little has been documented about the underlying influences of these preferences. Perhaps what has restricted researchers from investigating this phenomenon is due to the wide variety of music that is used for numerous but varying purposes. This limitation aside, it can be seen through various ways that the music we listen to does influence who we will make friends with. There are so many ways that people make friends, but music stands out as one of the many influential factors that determine who individuals will interact, engage and eventually point out as their close friends. Some people claim that music is insignificant in determining the type of friends we make because not many individuals indicate that they met through music. However, it has come to be increasingly noted that music creates a sense of belonging among people with a similar taste. It is this sense of inclusion that develops friendships. Therefore, music dictates what social circles we identify ourselves with a great deal of consistency. This paper argues that the music we listen to dictates who we will be friends with.

Music Preferences and Friends

Some people claim that our preference for one type of music is deeply subjective. They also claim that our upbringing informs what music we listen to. This means that the type of music that a person was exposed to as a toddler helps to develop specific mental patterns associated with the preference for one form of music over another (Rentfrow 406). The patterns help to create expectations when we listen to music where the greatest pleasure is attained when they are met. From the time expectations are discovered during our formative years, the rest of an individual’s life is centered on fulfilling them. Individuals are always in search of something more to fulfill their needs. Music provides that avenue in so many ways because different types of songs produced by artists project a certain emotion.  Music preferences are highly linked with an individual’s expectations, and they lead one to pursue satisfaction. This is the starting point of making friends who are mostly going to be people who are pursuing a similar taste in music.

Significance of Music since Adolescence

People listen to specific types of music because they do have preferences to certain genres over others. People also choose friends mainly because they share certain things between them. This is something people learn from an earlier age. In the life of an individual, it is during the adolescence stage that music begins to become more important in one’s social life (Scott 114). In fact, it is during most people’s adolescent years that music increasingly becomes significant in their personal lives. One of the critical signs is the amount of time and, sometimes money, that is increasingly set aside for music. It is from this critical period in one’s life that music preferences have come to be noted as an influential factor in an adolescent’s interaction with other people. According to Bonneville-Roussy et al. (703), “music is listened to and shared with friends, and peer crowds often center around certain musical preferences.” This is a strong indication that similarity in music preferences has a huge influence over who people get acquainted with from a young age onwards. Therefore, as people develop their music taste, they reach out to other people who they think will enjoy the same type of music preference. It is from this association that who one’s friends will be is dictated by what they prefer to listen to. The link between music preferences and the process of making friends does not stop with adolescence. It progresses even into adulthood as social lives become more expansive.

The Influence of People

Numerous reports have been documented to explain the interpersonal influence that exists between social relationships and networks. It is along these reports that an interesting aspect regarding music came up. According to Treacy (54), people are always in pursuit of variety and that they tend to become more pleased when they discover something new that fits their preferences. It is not different with music because people are often interested in listening to new music. However, discovering new music that is consistent with one’s tastes and preferences is hard to come by. Technology has played a huge part in the exchange of music to the extent that people can access more sources of music choices. Some of the advancements that have been made in the process include the music recommender systems that help people to find the music they prefer among a long list. These are systems that that filter the type of music that one may prefer and most likely enjoy. But even with the technology advances, people have been noted to play a big role in shaping the music tastes of others and in helping them discover new music. Brown, Rupert, and Capozza (22) cite that “, even with these new systems on the market, young people continue to discover music primarily through friends and acquaintance.” Therefore, by looking closely at what someone listens could indicate the type of friends they will have. Music drives people toward extending their social circles and in the process make new and more friends. Hence, music we listen to influences who we make friends with.

Social Identity

Music has always been an important aspect of the social life of human beings. It is an activity that has been practiced by all generations in the history of humanity in one form or another. Montoya, Matthew and Horton (66) state that the music we play does affect the social life of a person in numerous ways. In more ways, than we can imagine, music does reflect the social identity of a person. This is because it unites different people and influences who they bond with continuously. The society has been set in a way that people who listen to the same type of music recognize it subconsciously and tend to become close. The different genre of music enables people to explore and associate with other people whom they identify with. This is one of the reasons why music is considered an activity that forms people’s social identity. For example, people who listen to rock music have a tendency to behave in a way that expresses their liking of type of music. That is the tattoos, expressive dressing, and similar aspects in their social life. They will also tend to form a clique of people who also associate with rock music because they share an identity. At the same time, people who associate themselves with the reggae type of music will adopt similar ways of living and socializing. Any other person who identifies with reggae will feel that they represent and reflect his/her preferences in music. The attraction toward the group will be strong to the effect of creating friendship bonds in the process. It is unlikely that a person who loves listening to reggae music will have a strong relationship with a friend with another who listens to rock music. It is the same way that bands are formed in the first place. Different people notice that other people have similar musical preferences and they end up joining for a common goal. In this argument, what comes out strongly is that music is used to denote a sense of belonging thereby bringing people with similar preferences together. Furthermore, music has been known to unify people in history to perform certain activities. This is an example detailing how music dictates our social relations. Today, the influence of music on what friends we make can be observed through the way people dress, act, and talk.

Theoretical Foundation

The similarity in music preferences and the development of friendship among people who have similar tastes can be supported through a theoretical framework. Some people argue that music preferences are subjective and person-oriented, but the theories that have been developed go forward to denote that sharing musical tastes is an important part of social relationships. Laplante (65) uses the social identity theory to cite that “people gain a sense of social identity from the groups to which they belong and will, therefore, adopt similar preferences and habits to those of the individuals in their group in an attempt to foster self-esteem and feelings of belonging.” This theory suggests that peers have similar music tastes because friends are more likely to appreciate each other’s tastes. The appreciation grows with time, and the individuals adopt each other’s preferences. Therefore, if one person prefers hip hop music, the rest of his/her social circle is most likely fond of the same type of music. This proves that the music we listen to dictates who we are friends with.

Music defines human relationships in a great way. But there are so many factors involved that determine a person’s music preference. Greenberg et al. (150) state that people prefer to associate with music that is a reflection of their personality. This is an association explained further by the similarity-attraction theory. According to the similarity-attraction position, people are always attracted to other people with similar values, behaviors, personality, and attitudes (Papinczak et al. 1130). It means that any one person is likely to choose these similar others to be their friends. This is an important part of drawing people with similar preferences closer. A study by Greasley, and Alexandra Lamont (54) indicated that most people tend to talk about music when they are acquainting themselves with each other. This is because music can tell a lot about one’s characteristics. This is often a line of research that has been criticized by many because it seems to judge people that can manipulate what they say to appear who they are not. However, what cannot be doubted is that there is a strong likelihood that individuals will turn toward sharing music when they meet as a way of learning one’s tastes and preferences. It is only then that they subconsciously judge if the other is similar to them in terms of their values, attitude, and personality.  In turn, the more a person is similar to another in musical preferences, the more they are likely to become friends. Because part of our identity comes from our perceived membership within specific groups, we tend to extend to find friends who are similar to us. Therefore, music dictates who we make friends with up to a certain extent as argued by the similarity-attraction position.

The uses and gratification model has also been used by researchers to explain music and preferences. The model posits that individuals have both social and psychological needs and a set of expectations on how music may satisfy them. The social needs are mostly in the context of personal identity and social relationships. This model has been used to examine the way music is used to signal social identity. Hagen, Anja, and Marika Lüders (132) cite that “music helps to construct identity through the experience it offers an individual’s body, the sociability as well as time.” He explains that it is these experiences that enable people to see themselves in an imaginative cultural narrative. From there, an individual forms an emotional alliance with not only the musicians of their preferred music but also the music fans. It is this extension that people use to relate with other people that are of similar preferences. This extension satisfies their social and psychological needs. Mostly, to satisfy these needs people look for others who are similar and extend their friendship. It shows that music is key to our identity because it offers a sense of both ourselves as well as others. The social experience it provides to us helps in constructing our identity. This means that music does dictate who our friends are in a big way.


Music has a strong influence in our lives. Its influence is so strong that it has the power to dictate who we make friends with. Studies reveal that personality and social identity has so much to do with music preferences. By the time individuals understand their preferences in music, they are in constant motion of fulfilling that need. It is through this pursuit of satisfaction that they link with similar people who end up becoming their friends. The similarity is one that is defined by personality, attitudes, and values. As such, individuals associate with similar people to gain a sense of belonging and inclusion. Music offers an avenue to fulfill this need because it brings similar people together. This is why people who prefer certain types of music genre are often friends, confirming that the music we listen to dictates who we will be friends with.


Works Cited

Bonneville-Roussy, Arielle, et al. “Music through the ages: Trends in musical engagement and preferences from adolescence through middle adulthood.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 105.4 (2013): 703.

Brown, Rupert, and Dora Capozza, eds. Social identities: Motivational, emotional, cultural influences. Hove, UK: Psychology Press, 2016.

Hagen, Anja N., and Marika Lüders. “Social streaming? Navigating music as personal and social.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (2016): 1354856516673298.

Greasley, A. E., and Alexandra Lamont. “Musical preferences.” The Oxford handbook of music psychology (2015).

Greenberg, David M., et al. “Personality predicts musical sophistication.” Journal of Research in Personality 58 (2015): 154-158.

Laplante, Audrey. “Improving music recommender systems: What can we learn from research on music tastes?.” ISMIR. 2014.

Montoya, R. Matthew, and Robert S. Horton. “A meta-analytic investigation of the processes underlying the similarity-attraction effect.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 30.1 (2013): 64-94.

Papinczak, Zoe E., et al. “Young people’s uses of music for well-being.” Journal of Youth Studies 18.9 (2015): 1119-1134.

Rentfrow, Peter J. “The role of music in everyday life: Current directions in the social psychology of music.” Social and Personality Psychology Compass 6.5 (2012): 402-416.

Scott, Cyril. Music and Its Secret Influence: Throughout the Ages. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions/Bear & Co, 2013.

Treacy, Aoife. “Music preferences, and their effect on personality, coping styles and perceived scholastic competence in students.” (2013).