New study finds that teenage listening patterns determine adult music taste

An article recently published by The New York Times analyzes Spotify data to assess the extent to which the listener’s birth year influences the listener’s musical preferences, and as the study’s findings indicate, teenage listening patterns are far from mere phases.

Conducted by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, the research revealed that the music choices made during one’s teenage years are not only influential, but formative of one’s music taste as an adult.

The study evaluated each Billboard chart-topping song released between 1960 and 2000 to make its larger determinations, namely, that music taste is established mostly between the ages of 13-16 for males. On average, men were 14 years old when their favorite song was released. Stephens-Davidowitz offered Radiohead’s 1993 single “Creep” as an example: Stephens-Davidowitz’s data found that the song is the 164th most popular song among 38-year-old men, who would have been approximately 14 years old when the single was released.

The most important developmental period for music taste in women occurred between the ages of 11-14. Women were, on average, most likely to be 13 years old when their favorite song was released. The data also found that childhood influences were more impactful for women in the constitution of music taste than for men. Stephens-Davidowitz cited The Cure’s 1987 single “Just Like Heaven” as another example that correlated with the study’s findings. “Just Like Heaven” is a popular song among women age 41, and these women would have been 11 years old at the time of the song’s release.

Stephens-Davidowitz’s study ultimately concluded that the music listened to by both women and men in their early 20s is only “half as influential” in the construction of adult music taste as the music listened to during the teenage years, as music listeners themselves might find apparent in their own Spotify playlists.

Read the full article from The New York Times here.

H/T: The Verge

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