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Listening, Watching, and Reading: The Structure and Correlates of Entertainment Preferences


  • Funds for the second author have been provided by Grant AG20048 from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service. Funds for the collection of data from the Internet sample were generously provided by Signal Patterns. We are extremely grateful to Samuel Gosling, Youngsuk Kim, Daniel Levitin, and three anonymous reviewers for providing suggestions and comments on an earlier draft of this article. We are also grateful to Chris Arthun for preparing Figure 1.

concerning this article should be addressed to Peter J. Rentfrow, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and International Studies, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ, United Kingdom. E-mail:


ABSTRACT People spend considerable amounts of time and money listening to music, watching TV and movies, and reading books and magazines, yet almost no attention in psychology has been devoted to understanding individual differences in preferences for such entertainment. The present research was designed to examine the structure and correlates of entertainment genre preferences. Analyses of the genre preferences of more than 3,000 individuals revealed a remarkably clear factor structure. Using multiple samples, methods, and geographic regions, data converged to reveal five entertainment-preference dimensions: Communal, Aesthetic, Dark, Thrilling, and Cerebral. Preferences for these entertainment dimensions were uniquely related to demographics and personality traits. Results also indicated that personality accounted for significant proportions of variance in entertainment preferences over and above demographics. The results provide a foundation for developing and testing hypotheses about the psychology of entertainment preferences.

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