Entertainment

Using musical preference to measure intelligence

OVER the weekend, I spent close to two hours in a vehicle with one of my nieces in her late 20s as we were on a family errand.
While in the vehicle, she asked if she could play some of her music on the music system. I readily agreed.
What proceeded was some of the most annoying, bland and thoughtless dance music one can imagine. This music was from Nigeria (Afrobeat),
South African pop and some equally senseless Zambian music. There may be nothing wrong with the genres mentioned per say but the lack of thought or artistic effort in the music was mind boggling.
After about one hour, I could not take anymore and asked why she listened to this music. She said that is the “happening” music. I asked, so for you if music is not “happening” you cannot listen to it? She had a blank look on her face like what other method would you have to listen to music?
I struggled and I am struggling to say such sneering things about anything because of my Christian beliefs. I ask for God’s forgiveness but that music was really hard for me to listen to.
It was as though people were going out of their way to make the music unpleasant.
The “music”, if you can even call it that, was a collection of computer loops, template drum patters, pedestrian vocals and mostly
thoughtless lyrics. However, my niece insisted it was “happening” music. For me, instinctively, there is no way such music and intelligence
can go together. Once again, I beg for forgiveness if I am sounding elitist. And a large part of me does also not assign much of a premium to “book”
intelligence as measured by the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or academic achievement.
Some of the most incompetent members of society that I have met have PhDs.
Totally conceited impractical pustules. That is why the concepts of Social Intelligence (SI) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) are the buzz
now in management studies.
SI is the capacity to know oneself and to know others. Social Intelligence develops from experience with people and learning from success and
failures in social settings. It is more commonly referred to as “tact”, “common sense”, or “street smarts”. EQ is the ability to understand, use,
and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and
defuse conflict.
There have been studies in the western world that have sought to find correlations between the illusive IQ, EQ and musical preference.
Let us start with the results of IQ and musical preferences which are the studies that are most available. Previous research has shown that intelligence has a critical influence in music preference.
Rentfrow and Gosling (2003) showed that more intelligent individuals preferred “reflective, complex, and intense” genres of music (which included classical, jazz, blues, and folk).
Yet another study did not use musical preferences with personality styles and not intelligence. According to a study in the Independence four personality types were revealed.
• People who prefer Reflective and Complex music (Blues, Classical, Folk and Jazz) score highly on openness to experience, and see themselves as unathletic, politically liberal and intelligent (and, indeed, perform well on objective IQ tests).
• People who prefer Intense and Rebellious music (Alternative, Heavy Metal and Rock) show almost exactly the same profile, except that they are more likely to see themselves as athletic.
• People who prefer Upbeat and Conventional music (Country, Pop, Religious and Soundtracks) are the polar opposite. They have low scores for openness to experience and intelligence (again, according to both self-report questionnaires and objective IQ tests) but tend to be agreeable, extroverted and conscientious, and see themselves as attractive, wealthy and athletic, as well as politically conservative.
This group is the least prone to depression.
• People who prefer Energetic and Rhythmic music (Electronic, Rap/ Hip-Hop and Soul) are also extroverted, agreeable, attractive and athletic.
However, they do not share the political conservatism, wealth or lower intelligence scores of the Upbeat and Conventional group.
It is important to bear in mind that most of the relationships uncovered by the researchers (e.g., between a preference for Upbeat/Conventional music and lower IQ scores) were, although statistically significant, rather small.
In The Fool Hath Said in His Heart . . ., we met the correlation coefficient, a number that expresses the size of a relationship between
two measures, ranging from (no relationship) to 1 (perfect relationship).
That said, a followup study by the same researchers found that most of the stereotypes that were expressed about certain groups in a questionnaire
study (e.g., that fans of classical, rock and religious music are intelligent, liberal and conservative respectively) did contain a kernel of truth. Another follow-up study by these authors found that, when students were given the task of getting to know each other in an online-dating-type set-up, they not only chose to discuss musical preferences more than any other topic but also used them to successfully predict man of their partner’s personality traits and personal values.
So, the next time you meet a stranger and are curious to know her political views, you can get a very good idea simply by asking whether she prefers jazz or soundtracks. Send your comments




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