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Your Media Habits, Explained by Science


Peter Renfrow, a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge, tracked the media consumption habits of 3,000 people and used the results to propose that there are essentially five types of media: communal, aesthetic, dark, thrilling, and cerebral. How you score on these dimensions, presumably, determines what you like to read or watch.

A key finding was that the trends in people's genre preferences tend to span different media formats: books, music, film, TV etc. Those who score highly on the Communal dimension tend to enjoy media that involve people and relationships, including: daytime chat shows, romantic films, pop music, and cook books. High scorers on the Aesthetic dimension enjoy creative, abstract material, including: poetry, opera, and foreign films. The Dark dimension relates to intense, edgy, hedonistic material, including: heavy metal, horror films and erotica. The Thrilling Dimension is made up of adventure and fantasy material such as thrillers and sci fi. Finally, high scorers on the Cerebral dimension enjoy documentaries, news and current affairs.


As you might guess, women tended to score higher on the "communal" dimension and men tended to score higher on the "thrilling" dimension. More conscientious people tended to score highly on the "cerebral" dimension. Less conscientious people gravitated toward the "dark." As a next step, it would be interesting to dig into the causal interplay between one's behavior, media consumption profile, and environment.

At any rate, I would venture to guess that GOOD readers lean towards the aesthetic and cerebral. Correct me if I'm wrong; we can always start doing more heavy metal blogging.

Image: From the very cerebral Being There

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