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David M Greenberg

David M Greenberg

PhD Candidate



2012-Present: University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
PhD in Psychology
Dissertation: Individual Differences in Musical Engagement 

2010-2011: University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology
Dissertation: Determinants of Individual Differences in Music Preferences

2006-2010: Rutgers University, United States
BA in Honors Psychology
Thesis: The Missing Key: a Psychobiographical Study of John Coltrane

2008: University of Milan, Italy
EuroScholars Research Program (Philosophy, Aesthetics)
Thesis: The Bridge to Objectivity

Research Interests

My research examines musical behavior at the intersection of personality, social, and cognitive science. It begins from the standpoint that differences in musical experience are not random, but are rather tied to various psychological and cultural processes. Recently, our work has shown that personality and cognitive styles predict musical preferences and musical ability. We also explore a range of other topics including musical talent and skill in autism, how music is linked to resilience and well-being, and whether music can increase empathy and communication skills. 

You can find out your scores on music and personality tests at

Key Publications

Selected Publications:

Greenberg, D. M., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D. J., Monteiro, B. L., Levitin, D. J., & Rentfrow, P. J. (in press). The song is you: Preferences for musical attribute dimensions reflect personality. Social Psychological and Personality Science. 

Greenberg, D. M. & Rentfrow, P. J. (in press). The social psychological underpinnings of musical identities. In R. MacDonald, D. Miell, & D. Hargreaves (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Musical Identities. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Greenberg, D. M. (2015). Additional considerations to the model of musical empathic engagement: Empathy facets, preferences, and openness: Comment on" Music, empathy, and cultural understanding" by E. Clarke et al. Physics of life reviews.

Greenberg, D. M., Müllensiefen, D., Lamb, M. E., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2015). Personality predicts musical sophistication. Journal of Research in Personality. 

Greenberg, D. M., Baron-Cohen, S., Stillwell, D. J., Kosinski, M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2015). Musical preferences are linked to cognitive styles. PLoS One. 10(7), e013115

Greenberg, D. M., Rentfrow, P. J., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2015). Can music increase empathy? Interpreting musical experience through the Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) theory: Implications for autism. Empirical Musicology Review, 10(1), 79-94.

McCrae R., R., & Greenberg, D. M. (2014). Openness to Experience. In D. K. Simonton (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Genius. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Chan, W., McCrae, R. R., Rogers, D. L., Weimer, A. A., Greenberg, D. M., Terracciano, A. (2011). Rater wealth predicts perceptions of outgroup competence. Journal of Research in Personality.

Selected Presentations:

Greenberg, D. M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2015, August). Rules of engagement: The structure of musical engagement and its personality underpinnings. Paper presented at the Ninth Triennial Conferences of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. Manchester, United Kingdom. Awarded the Early Career Research Award by ESCOM. 

Greenberg, D. M., Montiero, B., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2014, July). Strong musical experiences across cultures: Data from the US, UK, Pakistan, and Japan. Paper presented at the International Association for Cross Cultural Psychology, Reims, France.

Greenberg, D. M. (2014, June). Musical Preferences and their Psychological Correlates. Paper presented at the Psychology, Sociology, and Politics Research Conference. Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Greenberg, D. M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2014, April). We are what we listen to: How personality structure relates to the structure of psychological attributes in music. Paper presented at the 5th Annual Conference of the British Society for the Psychology of Individual Differences, City University London, London, United Kingdom.

Greenberg, D. M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2014, February). Affective, Social, and Environmental Aspects of Musical Preferences. Poster presented at the 15th annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, TX.

Greenberg, D. M., Rentfrow, P. J., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2013, November). The Role of Empathy in Musical Preferences. Paper presented at SEMPRE: Music and Empathy Conference. Hull, United Kingdom.

Greenberg D. M. (2010, May). The Missing Key: A psychobiographcial case study of John Coltrane. Keynote speech presented at the Rutgers University Psi Chi Induction Ceremony, Piscataway, NJ.

Greenberg, D. M., Terracciano, A., & McCrae, R. R. (2008, August). Climatic Warmth and National Wealth Predict Stereotypes of Americans: Data from 48 Cultures. Poster presented at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.