Personality influences career choice: Sensation seeking in professional musicians

Peter Vuust, Line Gebauera, Niels Chr. Hansenb, Stine Ramsgaard Jørgensena,
Arne Møllera, and Jakob Linneta. 2010. Personality influences career choice: Sensation seeking in professional musicians. Music Education Research, 12, 2, 219-230.

ABSTRACT: Despite the obvious importance of deciding which career to pursue, little is
known about the influence of personality on career choice. Here we investigated
the relation between sensation seeking, a supposedly innate personality trait, and
career choice in classical and ‘rhythmic’ students at the academies of music in
Denmark. We compared data from groups of 59 classical and 36 ‘rhythmic’
students, who completed a psychological test battery comprising the Zuckerman
Sensation Seeking Scale, the Spielberger StateTrait Anxiety Inventory, as well as
information about demographics and musical background. ‘Rhythmic’ students
had significantly higher sensation seeking scores than classical students,
predominantly driven by higher boredom susceptibility. Classical students
showed significantly higher levels of state anxiety, when imagining themselves
just before entering the stage for an important concert. The higher level of anxiety
related to stage performance in classical musicians was not attributed to group
differences in trait anxiety, but is presumably a consequence of differences in
musical rehearsing and performance practices of the two styles of music. The
higher sensation seeking scores observed in ‘rhythmic’ students, however, suggests
that personality is associated with musical career choice.

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