The other day I heard loud distorted music approaching from a hotted-up 1986 Holden Calais with mag-wheels and a ridiculously loud sub-woofer and thought:
- I wonder what this guy is compensating for, and;
- His music taste probably says a lot about his intelligence.
- Find the ten most frequent "favourite music" descriptions at every US college via that college's Network Statistics page on Facebook;
- Download the average SAT/ACT score from CollegeBoard for students attending those colleges;
- Correlate the Facebook music results with SAT/ACT results and draw your own conclusions on music taste and intelligence.
Soca < Gospel < Jazz < Hip Hop < Pop < Oldies < Reggae < Alternative < Classical < R&B < Rap < Rock < Country < Classic Rock < Techno < Indie
It's tempting to think that intelligence has a direct impact on music choice, but this is probably not true - I know plenty of research scientists into Britney Spears. And the reverse - that music-choice influences your intelligence - doesn't make sense either, even though you may be occasionally tempted to think that listening to mindless dance-music makes you stupid. Could there be some drivers that influence both intelligence and music choice? Possibly. You can imagine that socio-economic factors and what you are exposed to whilst growing-up would influence the music you like and how well you do at school. Your parents would be a big influence too - I just can't shake Wet Wet Wet... There are countless possibilities that are best mulled over at the pub.
Whatever the case, I'm heartened by the results! We've already done a story on visualising music tastes using Last.fm, and most of my favourite artists are in the top half of the table with indie my favourite genre. For more on science and music taste, check out the podcast we put out in 2006 - one of the very first Mr Science Show episodes down the phone to China Radio International - called Can Scientists Predict Your Music Taste which looks at how web applications such as Last.fm and Pandora recommend songs to you based on your listening habits.
Griffith's study on music and intelligence comes on the heels of his "books and intelligence" study, in which he correlated book tastes with intelligence again using Facebook data. Harry Potter is the most popular book with The Bible second (for some reason, The Bible and The Holy Bible are different books). Some of the results include:
- Lolita is the smartest book;
- The Zane series of books are the dumbest - check them out, they seem funny and erotic...
- The smartest religious book is The Book of Mormon whilst the dumbest religious book is The Holy Bible;
- The dumbest philosophy book is The Five People You Meet In Heaven with the smartest philosophy book Atlas Shrugged.
So congratulations to Virgil Griffith and your study on music tastes and intelligence, you have won Correlation of the Week - the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be proud!