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Do you inherit your parents music taste?

Music taste is often seen as a defining part of someone’s identity. From a young age, many people feel a strong connection to certain musical genres and artists. This leads to the question – do we inherit our music taste from our parents?

The role of genetics

There is some evidence that genetics plays a role in determining musical preferences. Studies involving twins have found a genetic component to liking certain musical styles. Identical twins, who share 100% of their genes, often report similar music tastes. Fraternal twins, who only share around 50% of their genes, tend to have more divergent musical interests.

Research has identified possible links between specific genes and musical engagement. The gene AVPR1A has been associated with listening to music for pleasure. Variations in this gene may predispose people towards musical behaviors. However, more research is needed to fully understand the genetic factors involved.

Parental influence

Beyond genetics, parents play a key role in shaping musical tastes. Children are exposed to the music their parents listen to from an early age. Hearing certain songs and artists frequently can instill a lifelong appreciation.

Studies have shown that the music teenagers enjoy is often similar to what their parents liked in adolescence. Parental tastes aged 25-35 tend to resemble their children’s favorites 10-15 years later. This effect goes beyond pop music trends, extending across many genres.

Shared musical experiences also bring parents and children together. Singing favorite songs, attending concerts, and listening together powerfully reinforce musical bonds.

Wider family and friends

Beyond parents, wider family and friends contribute to music taste development. Siblings, cousins, grandparents etc expose children to new sounds. As children grow and diversify their relationships, friends become influencers. Teen peer groups often bond over shared musical preferences.


An individual’s personality traits also shape musical preferences. People who score high on openness to experience tend to appreciate a wider variety of music genres. Extraverts are drawn towards stimulating, energetic music. Introverts may prefer mellow, aesthetically sophisticated styles.

Music taste can reflect broader values. For example, rebellious and unconventional people often reject mainstream pop in favor of alternative genres.


The cultural environment plays a key role in musical socialization. People absorb the predominant tastes and genres within their culture. Mainstream pop styles tend to reflect shared generational experiences.

For immigrant families, children are often exposed to music from both their parents’ native culture and their new homeland. This can lead to an appreciation of diverse music traditions.

Does taste change over time?

Musical tastes are not set in stone. As people mature, their tastes often broaden and diversify. Teenage pop obsessions may give way to nuanced preferences later in life.

Studies find that openness to new musical styles peaks in early adulthood, declines through middle-age, then rises again in later-life. Retirement provides time to rediscover forgotten music.

New technologies, like streaming, expose people to more variety than ever before. Music taste evolution depends on an individual’s willingness to explore.


Musical taste develops through a complex interplay of genetic predispositions, parental influence, personality, and cultural environment. While parental tastes provide the initial building blocks, individuals ultimately create their own unique music identity. Tastes continue to evolve throughout the lifetime as musical horizons expand.