We all love listening to music, whether you’re doing it at Coachella, on a streaming service or Tinder-style on a music app. Now science is revealing exactly why you’re excited about some artists (hello, Taylor Swift!) and less excited about others (Gregorian chants, anyone? Anyone?). According to a study by the University of Cambridge, your music choices might be tied to your thoughts.

Researchers discovered that it’s not only age and personality that help distinguish your musical preferences, but also the way you think. They break down thoughts into two categories: empathy and systemizing. Depending on what your cognitive thinking style is, they can predict what kind of music you’ll like, even down to the different classifications in genres.


For example, with jazz, empathizers enjoyed mellow, more “unpretentious” jazz, while systemizers preferred more intense, structured jazz. Empathizers generally prefer R+B, country, folk, and contemporary music, while systemizers prefer pop, electronica, and Latin, which makes sense — systemizers prefer music that follows a system, or pattern. “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones would be prefered by empathizers, and “Enter the Sandman” by Metallica by systemizers.

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What does this all mean for the music industry? Think about all the money and research that goes into things like Spotify and Apple Music. This could revolutionize what kind of music comes to you through their algorithms. We say this is good news, as long as we still get to listen to our daily jams while doing our work (love you, Sam Hunt!).

What’s your current repeat song and what do you think it says about you? Tell us in the comments!

(Photo via Chip Somodevilla and Christopher Polk/Getty)