If you take a look at your most recently played songs, what shows up? Is there anything that has been released in the past 10 years? Unlikely. Most of us tend to listen to a lot of nostalgia-inducing music which comes from our childhood and teen years.
If you thought you might be along on this, you’d be wrong. In a recent article from the New York Times, it was uncovered that most people base their tastes, music or otherwise, on their formative years.
“The most important period for men in forming their adult tastes were ages 13 to 16,” it said. “The most important period for women were ages 11 to 14. For both men and women, their early 20s were half as influential in determining adult musical tastes as their early teens.”
But the question still remains…why is that we love this music so much? Was it really that good? Is today’s music really that bad? Or are we just incapable of change?
In an interview with Vice, Dr. Stephanie Burnett Heyes explained why we’re so obsessed with music from our childhood, regardless of what decade we’re from.
“Adolescence is a “social sensitive” period, which means it’s a period of life when you’re receptive to other people and ideas – more receptive than later on,” Dr. Burnett Heyes explained. “So those interactions and ideas tend to stick.”
Basically, we fall in love with it and we can’t let go. Our minds are so vulnerable that whatever we listen to, that’s what we connect with. But that’s not the only reason.
“Another reason has to do with the brain and what’s called “functional brain activity” – and these ideas aren’t mutually exclusive to the social ones,” the doctor continued. “When adolescents are processing stimulating reward activities – which can be anything from money to sugar to someone you respect liking you back – they seem to be more responsive than older and younger people, and that seems to respond to their activity.”
The other, easier, explanation is that when you’re young, music is relatively inexpensive to consume. When we’re young, we don’t have the money to invest our time and interests into things like movies or fashion, so music is an escape we always run back to.
When all is said and done, there’s no clear-cut answer as to why we connect so much with the music from our teens.
“In terms of scientific evidence for this, it’s really difficult to collect, but it’s an idea that’s been proposed in the last couple of years in the field of psychology,” Dr. Burnett Heyes explained. “It’s something we’re still trying to investigate.”