Are people who prefer listening to classical music actually smarter?
People who listen to instrumental music like classical or jazz may be more intelligent than people who like music with lyrics, according to a new study.
Music preferences can tell a lot about a person’s tastes and personality and the cultural and historical significance of music, along with its nearly universal presence in society, makes music an important aspect to research.
In a new study, researchers from Oxford Brookes University approached music from an evolutionary and social psychology standpoint to study the links between music preference and intelligence.
467 high school students from Croatia took part in the study, and the researchers tested intelligence and problem solving using a Nonverbal Sequence Test. Next, the researchers queried the students on their music preferences and how music was integrated into their lives.
The students that preferred instrumental music scored higher on the intelligence assessments, and the researchers found that instrumental music preference was a reliable indicator of intelligence.
The results help confirm the Savanna-IQ hypothesis, which is the idea that people who prefer music with complex orchestrations are smarter because of the interesting stimuli the brain is subjected to with classical music.
There are quite a few limitations to the study, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Biological Sciences, as the researchers didn’t factor in age, education level, or income.
To further investigate the relationship between music preference, intelligence, and evolution, the researchers recommend that future studies look cross-culturally.
“Future studies could focus on untangling the relationship between complexity and novelty in shaping preferences — complexity of vocalisation is preferred by many species, which could mean that it is evolutionarily familiar,” said Elena Racevska, the lead author of the study. “A cross-cultural study could examine and control for influences of culturally specific ways of experiencing music, and other music-related behaviours.”
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Olena Yakobchuk