Music can define a person's career and life choices from the age of 10, scientists analysing Desert Island Discs have found.
Researchers at the University of Westminster and City, University of London examined the musical choices of 80 different guests on the long-running BBC radio show.
They noted that those who appeared across the episodes preferred music that reminded them of a time when they were aged between 10 and 30. This timespan was identified as a "self-defining period" in the course of their lives.
The study found that music plays a significant role during this period by connecting an individual to people, places and times that are central to their identity.
Researchers also discovered that celebrity "castaways" on the BBC Radio 4 program tended to select songs that reminded them of a loved one.
This played to the idea someone was keeping them company on a desert island and therefore created a sense of security.
Participants showed a tendency to include tracks they mentally associate with an important time in their lives as part of their eight-strong record bag. This was with a view to strengthening their sense of self to help them through their imaginary isolation.
Of the episodes analysed, 17 per cent of song choices were made because they reminded guests of their relationship with a specific person. Almost one in five (16 per cent) of selected songs acted as a reminder of a particular period of time.
A further 12.9 per cent of choices stood out as connected to life-changing moments.
In one episode, singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen credited ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles - released in 1963, when Springsteen was aged 14 - as his inspiration for learning the guitar and starting a band.
Professor Catherine Loveday, a neuropsychologist at the University of Westminster and the lead researcher in the study, said that guests frequently chose songs because they were “related to important memories that occurred during teenage years”.
“This extends previous findings by showing that music from this time has particular meaning, primarily because it relates to memories from this very important developmental period of our life,” she said.
“Unlike previous studies, this study shows that this occurs even in a completely naturalistic setting, where people are not constrained by experimental settings and have a completely free rein on their musical choices.”
The research team has since started work on a new survey, which invites members of the public to create their own Desert Islands Discs experience, and is aimed at providing new insights into the benefits of music and reminiscence.
The study was published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Desert Island Discs, which was first broadcast on Radio 4 in 1942, sees guests or "castaways" select eight recordings, a book and a luxury item, while discussing their lives. The show is currently presented by Lauren Laverne.