Social identity theory posits that membership to social groups serves to enhance and maintain self-esteem. In young people music plays a prominent role in defining social identity, and so a relationship between music preference and self-esteem is expected, but is as yet unconfirmed by the literature. The objective of this study was to further examine the association between music preference and the self-esteem, and to apply social identity theory to differences in music preferences and self-esteem. The present study measured self-esteem from university students (n = 199) using Rosenberg’s (1965) self-esteem scale, and employed confirmatory factor analysis to derive a representative model of the self-esteem data. Music preference scores for clusters of music genres were found to significantly correlate with self-esteem. Furthermore, some measures of group differentiation based on music preference were significantly associated with self-esteem, but the relationships differed depending on gender. Overall, the results provided both support and challenges for social identity theory.

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