STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Most people have a specific taste in music, but does that taste affect how smart they are?
One study tried to find a correlation between the two.
In 2009, Virgil Griffith, a computer scientist and California Institute of Technology graduate student, attempted to identify this relationship.
Griffith looked at the favorite music listed by those who attend a specific college on Facebook, and then found that school’s average SAT and ACT scores and charted them on a graph. He titled the study “Musicthatmakesyoudumb.”
According to the study, the highest scoring artists included Beethoven, Sufjan Stevens and Counting Crows. Lil’ Wayne, Beyonce and T.I. were the lowest scoring artists.
The highest scoring genre was Indie, while the lowest was Rap.
Drake University’s favorites were The Fray, ColdPlay and The Beatles.
Stephanie Johnson, a neurologic music therapist in Des Moines, said the findings were interesting but misleading. Johnson said that there may be some correlation between the two, but she also questioned how the study was based on Facebook likes, not on actual surveys, which discredits it, she said.
Johnson believes that one’s education would affect music taste more than intelligence would, opposite of Griffith’s claims.
“Actually interacting with music is what’s important,” she said. “Hitting the drums or singing or dancing (along with it)… (will help) develop fine motor skills. Neurons that fire together wire together.”
Johnson noted that the right side of the chart, the side with higher SAT scores, contained more music that can be seen as complex, while the left side was comparatively simpler.
She also pointed out that those with more education tend to appreciate more complex music.
“Somebody who has access to music lessons tends to be higher in a higher socio-economic status,” Johnson said. “Being a musician (can help one perform) higher-level tasks as opposed to (someone) who simply (listened) to the music.”
Marissa Schuster, a sophomore music theatre and psychology double major, talked about more than just the correlation of test scores. She also touched on other effects that music tastes can have on a person.
“If you’re so focused on one (genre) of music then that will sway you in a way of thinking, of your thought process, the way you say things, how you structure things. That’s why I think it’s good to have a huge music taste instead of (only listening to one band),” Schuster said.
Music does have an influence on what people perceive as intelligence, but Johnson does not entirely agree with this perspective.
“I think there are a lot of links to learning and memory (with music),” Johnson said. “But ‘intelligence’ is so subjective.”
Music does improve test scores, Schuster mentioned, but she did not mention the genre’s role in this relationship.
Griffith did note in his article that the correlation does not mean that smarts and music taste directly influence one another, but it was implied that such an observation may be true.
“The thing is (that) with one study it’s very hard to completely prove something in psychology,” Schuster said. “Having just one study … (makes it) very difficult to say ‘This is 100 percent correct.’ The more information there is the better.”
Both Johnson and Schuster believe that although the article is interesting and makes a point worth thinking about, the study’s proclamation that some music will make you dumb is questionable at best.