Onderwijsinstelling: KU Leuven
Studierichting: Klinische en gezondheidspsychologie
Promotor: Peter Kuppens
Student: Gaëlle de Craene

The stereotype of the pop or rock musician is that of a tormented soul struggling with mood swings and addiction. More generally, creativity seems to evoke associations of eccentric, troubled artists dealing with their turmoil through creative expression. There is a plethora of research linking creativity with traits in the realm of both personality and psychopathology. Creativity is however a very wide concept and thus the conclusions in these studies might not be equally applicable to all subgroups of artists. Here, we were interested to obtain more insight into personality and psychopathology traits of popular musicians, both in terms of the stereotypical beliefs that may exist and to what extent popular musicians in reality deviate from the general population in this respect.

The aim of this study was to (a) study the stereotypical beliefs of the general population on the personality and psychopathology traits of (semi-)professional pop and rock musicians, (b) examine which personality traits and psychopathologies are effectively more or less prevalent in (semi-)professional pop and rock musicians, and last (c) if there is then some level of correspondence between the general public’s stereotypical image of personality and psychopathology traits of (semi-) professional pop and rock musicians and reality.

Two studies were conducted, with the first exploring the stereotypical beliefs in the population (N=228) and the second exploring the situation in reality, comparing (semi-)professional pop and rock musicians (N=96) to a normal population control group (N=91). The second study also compared the stereotypical views of the population to reality to determine if these converge. In both studies we examined the personality dimensions from the five-factor model of personality and psychopathology traits related to depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, sensation seeking, and narcissism using selected items from existing scales. Both studies used an online survey, relying on convenience sampling, to collect data.

In the first study we found that the general population perceives (semi-)professional pop and rock musicians as having higher levels of extraversion, agreeableness, and openness; and displaying higher levels of bipolar disorder features, general addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sensation seeking, and narcissism. They also viewed them as less characterized by depression and not differing from the general population in conscientiousness and emotional stability.

In the second study we found that that in reality (semi-)professional pop and rock musicians were characterized by higher levels of extraversion, openness, depression, bipolar, general addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sensation seeking, and narcissism. On the other hand agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability did not show a significant difference when compared to the population. When comparing these results with those from the first study we concluded that the stereotypical view and reality largely converge. The only differences consisted of the population believing musicians scored higher on agreeableness, when in reality they do not differ on these traits; and expecting them to be less characterized by depression traits, when in reality musicians score higher on depression.

Gaëlle de Craene

Personality and psychopathology traits in (semi-)professional pop and rock musicians.