Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Big 5 Personality Test & Its Connection to North African Music

I can't recall exactly when I discovered North African pop music, but I love it! My musical tastes are fairly eclectic, and it's definitely something I'm proud of. It's one of the symptoms or rather, qualities, associated with scoring high on the "Openness to Experience" part of the "Big Five" personality test.

For those of you who don't know about the "Five Factor Model" of personality, it's a conception of 5 independent traits that encompass a person's entire personality. To proponents of the FFM, once you know how a person scores on the test, there isn't really much more you need to know to understand their personality. The 5 traits that underlie all of personality according to this widely accepted model can be remembered by a simple acronym: OCEAN.

O - Openness to Experience
preference for novelty
- associated with creativity and intelligence
C - Conscientiousness
preference for following rules
- associated with being responsible
E - Extraversion
preference for socializing with others
- associated with being outgoing
A - Agreeableness
preference for acceptance & agreement
- associated with being kind and nice to others
N - Neuroticism
tendency to anxiety, worry
- associated with moodiness, fussiness

If you want to find out what your big 5 profile is, there is a totally awesome online version of it that will match you up with your Star Wars "twin personality." I did it and for years have asked my general psych students to take the test and write about it for extra credit. It is so cool. Only, perhaps, if you are from the Star Wars generation!

If you are the first to correctly guess my Star Wars twin, I will send you a very special gift from my Recycled Ideas collection :D (just add a comment with your guess!)

So back to the big O - one manifestation of my preference for variety is my tendency to listen to a wide variety of music. My collection includes: blues, soul, rap, pop, folk, rock, classical, world, hip/hop, audio books, soundtracks, alternative, punk, and country/western.

I do have my favorites, and one of them that ranks highly, at least in terms of what makes my iTunes frequently played list, is pop and hip/hop from North Africa, specifically raï. My absolute favorite artist is Khaled and my two favorites from him are Oran Marseille and Aïcha.

The first mixes French and Arabic in a rap song. I admit my French is not what it should be anymore, but as far as I can tell, the song is about the immigrant experience - moving from Algeria to France. Khaled eventually exiled himself to France because the Islamic extremists in Algeria couldn't stand the liberal themes of his music. Raï seems to provoke that from Islamic fundamentalists - sort of like the rancor between "evolutionists" and evangelical Christians.

The second, Aïcha, is a love song from a man to a woman. It's the first song written in French and Arabic in which I understood almost all of the lyrics. The man attempts to woo the woman by offering her luxurious material goods (like jewelry) and romantic displays (like poetry), to which she responds:
Elle a dit, garde tes trésors
She said, keep your treasures
Moi, je vaux mieux que tout ça
I'm worth more than all that
Des barreaux sont des barreaux même en or
Cages remain cages even though made of gold
Je veux les mêmes droits que toi
I want the same rights as you
Et du respect pour chaque jour
And respect for each day
Moi je ne veux que de l'amour
I don't want anything but love
If the English version of Aicha by Outlandish retained these themes, I would totally have my Evolutionary Psychology students analyze the song for its display of human mating tactics.

But, alas, they altered the song considerably. You can hear/listen to their rendition of Aicha if you scroll all the way down and watch the YouTube video at the bottom of this page. When I first heard the Outlandish version, I thought is was extremely cheesy, but I admit, it grew on me because it is still very, very sweet in its sentiment.

And hey, it introduced me to Outlandish, a talented trio of multicultural, multilingual young men who make some really wonderful Euro hip/hop. I just wish their stuff could be purchased on iTunes.


Psychgrad said...

Big Five is interesting...I'm working with it in my thesis (not a central aspect). Your assignment sounds neat.

Georganne said...

I'm FASCINATED! May I add your blog to my "Blogs of Interest" links???

Susan Kuchinskas said...

Yoda! You are obviously a wise, thoughtful and expansive teacher.

Laurie said...

I love the Star Wars test. Are you Yoda? I was Wicket for O, but am a little concerned that I was Boba Fett for A. Maybe I need to be nicer...

Nezha said...

Hello Field Notes,
Aicha is the best. Hmmm, evolutionary tactics...The male is bribing her with goods (i read somewhere that some chimps woo their mates by offering food, lol it's really funny)and perhaps Aicha is trying to secure an emotional attachment that she is sure will last?
The outlandish version is kind of cheesy, but i guess the heart is in the right place:)

Field Notes said...

Go right ahead georganne :D

And, Susan, you are right! If you'd like to claim the prize, just leave me another comment with the place I should send it (I won't publish it, so it will stay private between us).

Nezha, I think that's exactly what Aicha wants :D

Unbalanced Reaction said...

Interesting! I'll have to go check out that quiz.

Jen said...

ok, you sucked me in, lol...i'm gonna be reading all night with a cup of tea and my fuzzy slippers :)

yellowfish said...

I always score right near the middle on these things... but, I loove this kind of test so I'm off to go take it! :-)

punchanella said...

fabulous, i'm an open, neurotic extrovert. what could be worse, really. and don't forget, i'm disagreeable and not at all conscientious.

crap, i gotta re-think my personality.