By RAPHAEL MORALLO, The Philippines
Choosing one’s career plan is an important decision that is multi-faceted. Since one’s career choice is generally a permanent decision, choosing a career that best suits a person is a meticulous process. There are various internal and external factors that will help people, especially high school students, discover a career that they will find suitable to their interests and abilities. These factors may include cognitive ability, social skill-set, cultural background, and personal interests. In fact, several psychologists such as Blubaugh and Main of the American Society for Engineering Education, in their research on the link between music and a university engineering student’s choice of major, have identified these factors as representative of interest and personality that clearly drive a person’s career choice. Because of the wide range of factors, the decision on one’s career is guided by his entire personality.
It has been suggested that a person’s musical preference can be considered one of those factors because of how music has been used a social signal to indicate cultural identity (Blubaugh & Main, 2015). At the same time, music has been linked to the development of society and culture by revealing personal and societal development and exhibiting the personalities of both artists and listers. Because of the unique cultures that distinct types of music are associated to, people with similar interests and personalities may share similar tastes in music. This relationship may further support the influence of a person’s musical preference, as an element of culture, on how he chooses his career.
To further support the link between music and personality, several researches, including the ones conducted by Christopher Knowles of Parkland College (2013), Hasan Gürkan Tekman, Diana Boer, Ronald Fischer for the 12th International Conference on Music Perception (2012), and Chanel K. Meyers of the Western Oregon University (2012), have attempted to create a structure for musical preference. One of the most successful of them is the research conducted by Rentfrow, Goldberg, and Levitin (2015). The researchers constructed a five-factor model in describing the music preferences of people. These factors are the Mellow factor, the Urban factor, the Sophisticated factor, an Intense factor, and the Campestral factor, each of which are characterized by a distinct style of music. Furthermore, the research claims that validity of music stereotypes suggested that fans of certain genres reported possessing many of the stereotyped characteristics.
Because of how personality is a representation of a person’s cultural influences and personal interests and how a person’s ideal career is one that aligns with those influences and interests, personality and career choice may share a link. This link lies in the idea that different careers entail unique lifestyles in order to manage the work demanded, and having certain personalities can complement these lifestyles. John Holland (1997) demonstrated this correlation by formulating a six-point theory that describes the strong relationship between personality and career choice. In summary, most people fit into six major personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional. In choosing a career, people prefer jobs where they can be around others who are like them. People search for environments that will let them use their skills and abilities, and express their attitudes and values, while taking on enjoyable problems and roles (CareersNZ, 2015).
This research will attempt to bring together those two fields of research by directly revealing a link between music and career choice. By investigating any patterns, common points, and intermediate factors, including choice of university major and personality type, high school students may now better understand the importance of considering the totality of a person in selecting the most ideal career. Determining what career that may be requires self-reflection as a means to synthesize one’s abilities, experiences, and personality and to narrow down a person’s options to those that fit him the most. Allowing music to be considered a factor in choosing a career plan will help high school students value their personal preferences alongside their abilities in order for them to select an ideal career plan. Ultimately, this research aims instill in high school students the value of prudence and self-awareness in deciding their own futures.
The research is about finding a correlation between music listening habits of Grade 10 Afternoon School students of PAREF Southridge School in SY 2015-2016 and their intended career plans. The following questions will guide the research in completing its objective.
1. What internal and external factors can influence a person’s decision on his career? How are those factors related to each other? Which have more influence than others?
2. What kinds of music do people prefer? What factors are considered in determining how a person listens to music?
3. Is there a link between a person’s music listening habits and his choice of career? What are influences that both music listening habits and career choice share?
Significance of the Study
A study on musical preferences and choice of career plans is important because uncovering a link between them may help high school students better understanding how to effectively choose a career. Presenting these findings will hopefully encourage students to make more informed decisions on their future careers. At the same time, this research aims to unlock more ways that music may be central to the culture of people. Studying how music influences the lives of students may reveal the effects of music in a student’s academic and personal lives. Ultimately, this research may help others interested in the influence of music on people to gain valuable information about the topic.
Scope and Limitations
The scope of this research includes the Grade 10 - Afternoon School students of PAREF Southridge School, Muntinlupa City in SY 2015-2016. This research will also cover the music listening habits and preferences, personalities, personal interests, choice of university major, and career decisions of 16-year-old, high school students. The music listening habits to be studied will focus mainly on the genres that the students prefer. This research will only take on a general view of personality and not on specific personality traits. The choice of university major and career decisions will be based on the academic tracks that the students will choose as they enter Senior High School. This research will not include the Day School and Grades 7 to 9 Afternoon School students, parents, teachers, and mentors of PAREF Southridge School.
Review of Related Literature
Blubaugh, F. and Main, J. B. (2015). Characterizing Student Music Preference and Engineering Major Choice. American Society for Engineering Education.
Music genre preference can represent diversity in the broad dimension of experience, and there can be an association between music genre preference and engineering discipline choice. Several factors such as career prospects, personal interests, parental influence, effects of climate and culture, prior academic achievements, levels of self-efficacy, motivation, and demographic factors can influence student major choice. The National Longitudinal Student (NLS72) determined that the choice of a particular major align more with the interests than the ability of a particular student. Therefore, engineering students with similar interests and personalities will most likely choose the same major in college.
Rentfrow, P. J., Goldberg, L. R., and Levitin D. J. (2011). The Structure of Musical Preferences: A Five-Factor Model. J Pers Soc Psychol, 100(6), 1139-1157.
A five-factor structure underlying music preferences exists, and it reflects emotional and affective responses to music regardless of genre. All previous research done share five different qualities of music that correlate with certain personality types or emotions. Furthermore, research on the validity of music stereotypes suggested that fans of certain genres reported possessing many of the stereotypes characteristics. Developing a nuanced assessment of music preferences will help form a music preference structure that is more universal. This research utilizes the five-factor structure in identifying and grouping the music genres preferred by the respondents of the survey conducted.
Harrison, K. and Radomile, C. (2012, October). 5 Ways Your Taste in Music is Scientifically Programmed. Cracked. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/article_20065_5-ways-your-taste-in-music-scientifically-programmed.html
Research connects emotional stimulation from music to a person’s mental hardware. The brain will start seeking certain types of music to manipulate itself into a desired emotional state. By age 14, a person’s music preferences are sealed and remain, more or less, constant over time. Each person has been trained to recognize sounds as being good” or “bad”.
Greenberg, et al. (2015). Musical Preferences are Linked to Cognitive Styles. PLoS ONE 10(7).
Individual differences in music preferences are explained my the empathizing-systemizing theory that reveal a person’s cognitive style. Music already involved empathizing and systemizing through perceptual processing, affective reactivity, intellectual interpretation, and prediction. These distinct difference in preference may suggest that brain activity may also play a part in connecting music with cognitive style. Examining and determining possible links between musical behavior and systemizing will help further understand that natural and biological basis of musical preferences. This reveals that intellectual processes such as decision-making may be predicted by the behavior of people towards music.
Big Picture View of Career Development Theory. (2000). Canadian Career Development Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.ccdf.ca/ccdf/NewCoach/english/ccoache/e4a_bp_theory.htm
John Holland’s Career Typology focuses on individual characteristics and occupational task to determine the most suitable career for a person. Holland expanded the concept of personality types by hypothesizing that : (1) personalities fall into six broad categories, (2) the work environments that reflect these personalities can be clustered into six similar populations since certain personalities are inclined to certain jobs, (3) an individual is made up of six types, with one type dominating the other five, (4) personalities can be matched with work environments through their problem-solving approaches, (5) the closer the match of personality to job, the greater the satisfaction. Holland’s approach has been employed in vocational counseling, in popular assessment tools such as the Self-Directed Search, Vocational Preference Inventory and the Strong Interest Inventory, and in practical resources like the Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes.
In order to answer the questions laid out in the research objective, the following steps were followed. This is to provide a clear procedure as to how the study was conducted.
The first step in conducting this research is the gather information from both print and online sources. These include related literature, including earlier researches, data, and articles that discuss the relationship between music preferences and deciding on a career plan. These literature may include articles that discuss what factors may be considered in career planning and how music preference influences or may be included those factors. The literature and data gathered will then be verified with the assistance of the research adviser.
The second step will be divided into two parts. The first part is conducting a survey to determine the music preferences and career plans of the Grade 10 - Afternoon School students of PAREF Southridge. This survey will ask students what genres of music they prefer listening to as well as what career they plan on heading to. After conducting the research, the data will be recorded, organized, and analyzed to find a correlation between the recorded music preference and career plans.
The second part is gathering related researches for data and information that will verify the survey data and its analysis. They must be related to either music preference or career planning and decisions. This will ensure that the information gathered reflects existing studies that have proven at least a part of this research.
The analyses of both the survey data and the research reviews will then be analyzed together and compared with each other. The research adviser will assist in this step to review the analysis made previously on the data and research reviews and to ensure the validity of any conclusions that will be made. This analysis will be discussed in the results and findings to claim whether the correlation does exist. Conclusions and recommendations will follow to further support this claim.
Results and Findings
This section presents the outcomes of the methods used to collect the data and information necessary in this research. The interpretation and analysis detailed in this section fulfill the research objectives and provide a conclusion with recommendations for further studies.
Background on Career Choice
Secondary education is treated as an important stage between the academic life and the professional life. During this period, students are taught not only to perform excellently in academics but also to reflect on what career they choose once they graduate high school.
However, high school students are not required to decide on their career plan before their senior year. In fact, universities account for students who are undecided on what course they want to apply to, thus not declaring a major in most university applications. The survey conducted accounts for this by asking respondents to rank the six major career groups based on the six academic strands of the Department of Education’s Senior High School Program as part of its K-12 Basic Education Curriculum.
Educating high school students properly on how to choose a career that suits their interests and capabilities must be further stressed. Students must be able to make educated decisions that will lead them to a career that they are satisfied with.
Background on Music Preference
Music is an element of the culture and customs of a society. As such, it can be inferred that the music preference of a person is part of his identity. This can also infer that various factors of one’s personality may affect one’s music preferences.
At the age of the respondents of the research, people have begun developing their preference of music as part of the adolescent stage. In an article published by the University of Cambridge, Daniel J. Levitin claims that at fourteen years old, a person’s taste in music forms and solidifies at twenty-four. He further claims the following
Pubertal growth hormones make everything we’re experiencing, including music, seem very important. We’re just reaching a point in our cognitive development when we’re developing our own tastes. And musical tastes become a badge of identity. (Hadju, 2011).
Therefore, considering the music preference of a person may give clues to the background of a person’s adolescent stage, and it may leave information about how a person developed his personal identity.
Background on the Survey Data
A survey was given to 38 out of 40 Grade 10 PAREF Southridge - Afternoon School students on December 14, 2015. (See Appendix 1.) Two students were absent and are thus unaccounted for. Each question in the survey collected one set of data and interpreted to reflect the respondents as accurately as possible. (See Appendix 2 for raw survey data.)
Question 1 uses a ranking system where respondents rank all six choices shown to them using the numbers 1 to 6 where 1 is the most preferred choice while 6 is the least preferred choice. The raw data collected was then converted such that a 1 is tallied as a 6, 2 as a 5, and so on. The sum totals of the converted data per choice were calculated. These total were referred to as the “Level of Preference; the preference increases as the value for Level of Preference increases. Alongside the Level of Preference, the mean and standard deviation of the choices was calculated.
Question 2 and 7 use a similar ranking system where respondents rank three choices out of four given choices using the numbers 1 to 3 where 1 in the most preferred choice while 3 is the least preferred choice. A 4 was tallied for choices that the respondent did now choose. The raw data was also converted such that a 1 is tallied as a 3, 2 as a 2, and 3 as a 1, 4 as a 0. After conversion, the sum totals of the converted data per choice were calculated to arrive at the Level of Preference. Alongside the Level of Preference, the mean and standard deviation of the choices was calculated.
Questions 3, 4, 5, and 6 ask respondents to choose one from a selection of choices. Their responses were tallied per choice, and the sum totals represent the corresponding Level of Preference.
Two surveys did not follow the instructions for Question 7 by selecting three choices without ranking. This was remedied by entering 2 , the average rating, for all three choices.
The choices of Question 1 of the survey pattern the 6 Academic Strands of the K-12 Basic Curriculum Program of the Department of Education. The Department of Education, in its Senior High School Student Primer for incoming senior high school students, mentions that the curriculum includes Applied and Specialized Subjects.
The Applied and Specialized Track Subjects you will take will depend on your chosen track. You can base your chosen track on what you’re good at, what interests you, what you’re passionate about, or the career or college course you want when you graduate…These subjects will prepare you to learn more advanced skills in college, if you decide to go. They will also develop skills you will need if you want to work right after high school. (Department of Education, 2015)
Based on this claim, the career groups references in this research will be based on those Academic Strands.
Throughout this section on career choice, the research of Michael Borchert entitled Career Choice Factors of High School Students (2002) and the research of Kochung Edwards and Migunde Quinter entitled Factors Influencing Students Career Choices among Secondary School students in Kisumu Municipality, Kenya (2011) will be used to verify the findings.
Ranking the Career Groups
Based on the survey results gathered from all 40 respondents, the following data was computed and tallied in Table 1.
Based on Level of Preference and Mean Rank, the respondents rank both Accounting, Business, and Management (ABM) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers higher than the other four careers. The standard deviation for all career groups is between 1 and 2, indicating that the respondents’ rankings vary by one or two places.
Because of the relatively small deviation, it may be inferred that the respondents are relatively decided on their choice of career.
Question 2 of the survey asks the respondents who influenced their decision on their intended career plans. Figure 2 displays the survey data gathered.
Majority of the respondents responded that they chose a career without the help of other people. The remainder of respondents has said that their parents or people outside their friends and family influenced their career choice. None of the respondents have reported their friends as an influence.
The data shows that the respondents not only are relatively decided on their choice of career, but they also decided on it on their own. This may then imply that the respondents would rather choose a career that best suits them personally rather than conform to the pressures of other people.
This is not to discount the influence of the parents over the careers of their children. Even though the data displays that the decisions of the parents are not as valued as the respondents’ personal choices, it still implies that the parents are the most influential external source in career decisions. This is concurs with research of Borchert (2002) that concluded
"…students do listen to the people around them; and that those people are going to have similar, not significant ideas. The students may unknowingly define their thinking by based on the ideas and suggestions of the people in their support group."
Question 3 of the survey asks respondents to rank three factors that affect their choice of career. Table 2 shows the data gathered from the respondents.
The data shows that the highest-ranked factor is their interests, followed by parents, friends, and relatives who are pursuing the same career and the prestige that the career has. The data confirms the results of Edwards and Quinter (2011) in their research on the career choices of high school students:
Regarding the influence of personal interest on career choice, the study reported that more than 70% of the students who participated were influenced by personal interest when making career choice. These findings are not strange considering those students’ interests are often shaped by their environment, the people they interact with and more so their life experiences as they grow.
The data gathered in this research reflects that students do still value the opinions of other people, but ultimately, it is the student’s interest that drives him towards his choice of career.
Music Preferences per Career Group
The music preferences per career group were determine through grouping the respondents into the career groups they have chosen as their first, second, and third choice. This is because the standard deviations of each career group were found between 1.26 and 1.65, implying that the respondents’ choices vary between two to three ranks. This method means that one respondent is represented in three separate groups. The number of respondents per group is shown in Table 3.
The MUSIC model was employed to group several genres of music and condense them into five distinct groups. Formulated by Rentfrow, Goldberg, and Levitin (2011), this model separates each genres according to its perceived musical attributes. The research came up with the following dimensions to categorize musical genres:
Mellow (featuring romantic, relaxing, unaggressive, sad, slow, and quiet attributes; such as in the soft rock, R&B, and adult contemporary genres); Unpretentious (featuring uncomplicated, relaxing, unaggressive, soft, and acoustic attributes; such as in the country, folk, and singer/songwriter genres); Sophisticated (featuring inspiring, intelligent, complex, and dynamic attributes; such as in the classical, operatic, avant-garde, world beat, and traditional jazz genres); Intense (featuring distorted, loud, aggressive, and not relaxing, romantic, nor inspiring attributes; such as in the classic rock, punk, heavy metal, and power pop genres); and Contemporary (featuring percussive, electric, and not sad; such as in the rap, electronica, Latin, acid jazz, and Euro pop genres). (Rentfrow, Goldberg, and Levitin, 2011)
These dimensions were reflected as choices to the Question 5 of the survey administered to the respondents. Table 4 summarizes the data gathered on the musical preferences of each career group.
The survey data does not show a majority preference within each career group. However, within each group is a music category that is ranked highest. In the ABM, STEM, HSS, and S&R groups, the M category consisting of soft rock, R&B, and adult contemporary genres was ranked highest among the rest of the categories. Generally, these categories report a similar ranking of music preference in the following order from the most preferred to least preferred:
The standard deviations for the U and S categories is below 5%, which indicates that the data is gathered from all the career groups is similar. This implies that all career groups prefer those two categories at the same degree.
On the other hand, the standard deviations of the M, I, and C categories is close to 5%, which indicates that certain career groups do have a significant preference for those music genres more than other groups. This is in part caused by the choices of two career groups: TVC and A&D whose rankings differ from the other four career groups. This may conclude that there is a significant difference in the preferences of the respondents of each career group, but the relatively small sample size requires further study to confirm this data.
Throughout this section on career choice, the research of Carolyn Spinelli entitled Assessing Music Listening Habits in a Media Rich Society (2015) and the research of and the research of Marc Delsing, et al. entitled Adolescents’ Music Preferences and Personality Characteristics (2008) will be used to verify the findings.
Question 5 asks the respondents to indicate the three most preferred musical genre groups based on the MUSIC model. Figure 3 shows the data gathered from the respondents.
The data gathered yielded the following ranking of music genre groups based on preference.
Based on this data, the music genres that the respondents listen to lean towards more soft rock, R&B, and adult contemporary genres as well as country, folk, and singer/songwriter genres. Three of the five genres are preferred by a majority while the remaining two are preferred by a minority, which means that the respondents have significantly similar preferences in music genres.
In comparison, Spinelli gathered survey data from University of Vermont students and yielded the following results:
" The most popular was Rock, with 22.5 percent of students choosing it as their favorite. The next most preferred type of music was Indie with 19.5 percent, followed by “Other” with 12.0 percent. Hip Hop was fourth most common genre with 10.5 percent, followed by Country and Electronic, both with 8.0 percent." (Spinelli, 2015)
The data was taken from undergraduate university students, presumably those who have entered a certain course in the university that will lead them to their career of choice. This means that the respondents have a more concrete idea of their career and can be considered an evolution of the high school respondents of this research.
Based on that implication, the comparison of the data shows that music styles still do develop after high school but in ways that do not significantly disrupt preferences during high school.
Influences and Motivations for Music Preference
Question 5 asks respondents who has influenced their music preference. Figure 4 displays the data gathered from the respondents.
The data reveals that a clear majority of the respondents discovered their preferred music independently. The remainder of respondents discovered the music they prefer through other people such as friends and family.
In comparison, the survey data gathered by Spinelli (2015) regarding how the respondents access new music reported:
"The highest percentage of students (44.5%) said they access their new music through websites online, followed by through friends (32%). Radio was the third most common source of new music (16%), followed by “other,” which mostly consisted of responses saying “all of the above.” Going to see live music was the least common way of finding new music, with only 3.5 percent of responses."
The results aforementioned explicitly make a significant distinction between accessing new music through the internet and through the radio mainly because of the higher demand and convenience of online sources rather than conventional sources.
The results of Spinelli and the results of this research display that there is still a sense of autonomy over one’s choice of music through accessing them independently. Although Spinelli’s research shows a much higher percentage of respondents citing friends as a source of new music, this still implies that even after high school, students still find a sense of autonomy over their choice of music.
Career Groups per Music Preference
The respondents were grouped again into five groups depending on the music preferences they chose; a single respondent will be put in three groups representing the three music genres choices. The number of respondents in each group reflects the data of Table 4. Tables 5 to 9 present the data gathered from Question 1 within each of the five groups.
The data reveals by categorizing each respondent into the music groups, there seems to be a slight preference for the STEM careers throughout all the music groups. The standard deviation of the data is similar to the general data set of Table 1, confirming that the level of certainty of the respondents varies one to two ranks.
The general ranking of each career group by all music groups is as follows:
The Pearson Product is used in this research as a correlation coefficient.
In order to avoid mathematical errors, the input values for music preference were altered. Each selected choice was given a value of 2 while a blank choice was given a value of 1.
The Pearson Products were calculated for a pair of set: one career group and one music genre group. Table 10 is a summary of the Pearson Products calculated.
Based on the Pearson coefficient, the career-music groups highlighted in green are those that have a positive correlation and those highlighted in red are those that have a negative correlation. It is also observed that all coefficients calculated are between -0.4 and 0.4, which implies very slight correlation. In general, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the career groups and music genre groups as the preferences overlap each other greatly.
Respondents considering HSS careers have the broadest preference for music with 4 music genres groups positively correlated and 1 group negatively correlated. Respondents considering A&D and STEM careers have a relatively broad preference for music with 3 music genre groups positively correlated with the remaining 2 groups negatively correlated. Respondents considering TVC and S&R careers have the least broad preference for music with only 1 positively correlated music genre group. On the other hand, the M, U, I, and C categories each have positive correlations with 3 career groups while S has positive correlations with 2 career groups.
This implies that there is a possible link between the breadth of music selection and the type of career a student may go into. This is due in part to the cultural and social impact of music on people especially those developing their music preferences. This helps people develop their identity and character, both of which are crucial in determining career. John Holland, in his study on Career Topology, hypothesized the following:
(1) personalities fall into six broad categories, (2) the work environments that reflect these personalities can be clustered into six similar populations since certain personalities are inclined to certain jobs, (3) an individual is made up of six types, with one type dominating the other five, (4) personalities can be matched with work environments through their problem-solving approaches, (5) the closer the match of personality to job, the greater the satisfaction.
Figures 2 and 4 show similarities in the content being ask for.
Both questions ask about the people who have influenced their career plans and music preferences. Both have similar response choices where the respondent can choose either himself or other people such as a family and friends as an influence. The graphs show a similar consensus that career plans and music preferences are chosen independently.
This similarity shows the important of identity and independence in the formation of both music preference and career plans. Simon Frith, in Music and Identity, stated that music constructs our sense of identity through the direct experiences it offers of the body, time and sociability, experiences which enable us to place ourselves in imaginative cultural narratives (Frith, 2004).
1. Based on the survey data gathered, the respondents preferred Accounting, Business, and Management (ABM) careers as well as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The respondents are relatively certain of their first, second, and third choice careers. The majority of respondents chose their careers independently and based on their interests more than the decisions of their friends or family, the prestige of the career, and any offers to take that career path.
2. The respondents prefer the following genres: Soft Rock, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Pop, Hip Hop, Rap, and Electronica. They discover their preferred music independently through radio, television, and the Internet over the suggestions of other people.
3. There is no significant link between a person’s music listening habits and his choice of career.
However, respondents who are interested in Humanities and Social Science have a large breadth of music choice, followed by respondents interested in STEM, ABM, and Arts & Design careers. Respondents choosing Technical & Vocational, and Sports & Recreation careers have the narrowest breadth of music preference. Both music preference and career choice are the result of individual choices with a slight preference for the interests of other people.
1. Students, parents, teachers, and counselors can use the results of this survey as a means of understanding the main determinant of career decisions. This research does support independent decision making in deciding a career plan for the future. The music genre preferences were used as a means of determine a part of culture that may support independent decision making as well.
2. Future researchers may study further the correlation between a person’s breath of music genre preference and career choice as observed in the results and findings of this research. Future researchers may also continue the research by considering other important factors such as social status, environmental factors, and academic success. Future researchers may also explore more in-depth the role of personality in the connection between music and career choice by doing a music-personality correlation alongside a career choice-personality correlation to determine which aspects of personality can link career choice and music preference.
3. It is recommended to further study this research to include data from a larger group of respondents such as the entire Afternoon School of PAREF Southridge School or all Grades 7 to 10 students of both the Day School and Afternoon School. If possible, a longitudinal study to determine whether, over time, music preference changes from the time when students start forming career plans to the university level where they are concretely putting these plans to action.
References and Appendix (Questionnaires)
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