Intelligent People Prefer Instrumental Music & Novelty Seeking

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Would you choose Beethoven over the Beastie Boys?

Are you triggered by vocal samples interrupting otherwise stellar electronic track?

Do you wish Taylor Swift would just shut up?


If you prefer your music instrumental all the way, chances are you’re a little more intelligent than the rest of us.

Researchers Elena Račevska and Meri Tadinac have just finished studying the link between intelligence and musical preferences in 467 high school students, with results that will have psytrance lovers rejoycing.

Their study, which was published in the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences journal found intelligence to be “a significant predictor of the preference for instrumental music, but not of the preference for vocal-instrumental music”.

The research also found that those among us who use music for “cognitive” purposes (e.g. to improve studying) are more likely to prefer instrumental music.

To get to this conclusion, the researchers used:

  1. The Non-Verbal Sequence Test to measure participant’s intelligence
  2. The Uses of Music Questionnaire to figure out why participants listened to music and;
  3. The Scale of Music Preferences to categorise participant’s tastes (the four categories are: Reflective & Complex, Intense & Rebellious, Upbeat & Conventional and Energetic & Rhythmic.)

The study also supports the Savannah IQ Hypothesis, which argues that intelligence developed as a way to deal with unfamiliar situations, and as such the higher an individual’s intelligence the greater their proclivity for engaging in novel experiences.

So, if you love trekking to parts unknown for an electronic boogie with a pack of strangers, you’re probably smarter than the average bear!

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