Music shapes individualism, personal style changed


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Laís Campos

Music can influence behavior and personal style in many different ways. Not only can it shape our sense of self by providing immediate sensory impressions of physique, time and sociability, but music also allows us to situate ourselves in sociocultural narratives, according to Diggit Magazine. More specifically, the different genres we tend to hear regularly throughout the day can impact our mood and the way we present ourselves to the public. Music can be utilized as an instrument for individual and nationalistic self-expression. For instance, a person who listens to country music may have a different personal style than a person who listens to rock. R&B listeners may be more calm compared to metal listeners. By analyzing how different music genres impact identity, people can better understand themselves and their music taste. 

Regarding the biological portion of music’s effect on the brain, in an article explaining why music is good for the brain, Dr. Andrew E. Budson described how music affects emotion, well-being, cognition and life quality.

Music can present powerful effects on stress relief, pain reduction, memory, communication and seizures when it reaches different areas of the brain. “Music has been proven to stimulate some of the brain’s most extensive and complex networks, including the auditory cortex in the temporal lobes located near our ears,” Budson said. “Sentimental music not only stimulates but it also synchronizes the areas of the brain engaged in emotion.’’ 

When music reaches the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for producing and retrieving memories, it allows for the production of new neurons, which, in turn, improves the memory by increasing neurogenesis, according to an article published by the University of Central Florida, “Your Brain on Music”. The hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in emotional activity, will produce and release essential hormones depending on the type of music listened to. For example, if a smooth jazz song were to be playing, it’s likely that a person’s heart rate and blood pressure would reduce, resulting in a relaxed state. Music is also connected to the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and desiring behavior, which appears to predict music’s potential to create pleasure in the human body.

“Because music can activate almost all brain regions and networks, it can help to keep a myriad of brain networks that are involved in well-being, learning, cognitive function, quality of life and happiness”

— Dr. Andrew E. Budson


“Because music can activate almost all brain regions and networks,” Budson said, “it can help to keep a myriad of brain networks that are involved in well-being, learning, cognitive function, quality of life and happiness” 

In many ways music can also affect behavior and mindset. Distinct languages, rhythm, pitches and sound levels of music impact emotions, mental activity and physical reactions. Following exposure to classical music, positive emotions increased while negative moods dropped, after exposure to heavy metal music, positive moods declined while negative moods surged, according to research from Emporia State Research Studies. Because of its intense and virtuosic sounds, heavy metal and rock music listeners tend to have a more aggressive image to the public. They can, however, be perceived as creative but introverted, as they consider music as a tool for generating contemplation and eliciting a sensory reaction. Meanwhile, country music listeners are usually outgoing, hardworking and traditional, although the majority tend to be more conservative and have little value on the characteristic of openness to new experiences, according to an article from VeryWell Mind. Lastly, even though pop music listeners are inclined to have a higher self-esteem and be more extroverted, they also appear to be uneasy and less creative. 

Personality and personal style is subject to change throughout time as people develop different music tastes. RBHS senior Grace Goff said her change of musical style during quarantine influenced the way she expresses herself. 

“As I began to listen to riot grrrl music and other punk music styles during 2020, it definitely changed my sense of style,” Goff said. “I started dressing differently, shaved my head, even grew a mullet at some point.’’ 

People are very likely to base their fashion sense on the type of music they listen to on a regular basis. Throughout the decades, there is evidence of music’s impact on fashion, such as the relaxed colorful pattern style in the late ‘60s influenced by popular artists like Janis Joplin and the band,  Jeff Airplane, during the hippie movement. Fashion and music became so intricately linked because music became a method of demonstrating individuality, political beliefs and ideas rather than just entertainment, according to an article from the University of Fashion. Through the years, musicians have influenced the fashion industry by not only having their own clothing lines, but also by constantly cosigning labels. For example, Kanye West had a great impact on streetwear fashion by designing one of the most popular sneakers released across the U.S., known as Yeezys. By doing so, many young adult listeners adopted streetwear fashion because they wanted to feel connected to their favorite artist. Alongside buying and downloading the artist’s music and attending concerts, buying merchandise has become a common way for fans to show their love and loyalty to an artist, according to an article by Music Promo Today. People often buy clothing-related merchandise from their favorite artists to feel closer to their music as a fan.

“As I began to listen to riot grrrl music and other punk music styles during 2020, it definitely changed my sense of style. I started dressing differently, shaved my head, even grew a mullet at some point.’’

— Grace Goff

RBHS senior Aisha Ibitoye said her style over the years differed as the genre of music she listened to became more varied. 

“In the past, I mainly listened to popular music that played on the radio, and my outfits consisted of only leggings and t-shirts,” Ibitoye said. “Now, as my music taste is more diverse, I wear a wider variety of outfits.” 

Music enhances community vibrancy, stimulates the brain and fosters a sense of belonging and connection with others. Members of communities all over the world utilize music to build cultural identity and to obliterate the cultural identity of others, to establish harmony and to break it, since music has the ability to move others deeply. Musical reactivity is linked to group dynamics in various populations, including one’s perception of belonging to a community, positive relationships with members of a group, prejudice toward outgroup members and adaptations to their environment, according to an article from Greater Good Magazine. When people listen to music together, neurochemicals in the brain are impacted, bringing people a sense of closeness and connection.

Music has continuously shaped identity throughout people’s lives by not only affecting a way of thinking through different genres, but also by influencing public self-expression. The type of music played in the environment people grow up in tends to socially influence perception. Nonetheless, music tastes tend to change with each person and over time.

 “My music taste, being classic rock, alternative rap and indie pop, definitely impacts the way I present myself,” Goff said. “As I’ve had many different music phases throughout the years, it made me more inclined to dress or act a certain way.” 

Has music ever influenced your personal lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below.