Study: People Bond with Music in Teenage Years

Researchers have taken a scientific look at why people love the music they do and how it connects to important times in their lives. The study, published last week in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, sought to look at music people hear in their teenage years and how that music becomes intrinsically linked to a person’s “sense of themself.” Researchers with the University of Westminster School of Social Sciences in London analyzed 80 guests on the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) show Desert Island Discs in which celebrities select eight pieces of music that they would take with them to a desert island. The researchers found half of the songs participants chose were selected because they were linked to important memories from when they were either between the ages of 10 and 19 or between 20 and 29. They theorize it is during those years that people are forming the essential sense of themselves.  Researchers found the songs on Desert Island Discs were all tied to key transitions in participants’ lives such as meeting a partner, attending college or some other life-altering event. Lead researcher University of Westminster neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday said those songs tend to influence a person’s taste in music for years to come. She said the memories people form in their teenage and early adult years are what she and her fellow researchers call “the self-defining period” in which the brain is “taking snapshots” of episodes more than any other time in a person’s life. 

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