Friend Eric forwards a link to this Scottish study that purports to find correspondences between musical taste and personality characteristics. The short version: only fans of Indie and Rock/Heavy Metal have low self-esteem, fans of Blues, Jazz, Classical Music, Rap, Opera, Reggae, Chart Pop, and Soul have high self-esteem, fans of Country and Western, Reggae, Bollywood, and Indie are all “outgoing”…and on, and on.
Prof. Adrian North, who finds the results of his study “significant” and “surprising,” is a professor at Heriot-Watt University. Don’t feel bad; I’ve never heard of it either (I’m sure they’ve not heard of the University of Northern Colorado, to be fair), and you know it’s a good place because in addition to their three Scottish campuses they have one in Dubai. That link is to a BBC story; I would have thought BBC would have pointed out the obvious:
Take the characteristics for fans of Classical Music: high self-esteem, creative, introvert, and at ease, and those for Rock/Heavy Metal: Low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, at ease. What does that say for me—I like (indeed, play) Classical Music, and Rock? I have high and low self-esteem? How in God’s name does “Indie”—a self-promoting and self-marketing band—mean one particular kind of style? But more importantly, who is this clown from Heriot-Watt to say define what a fan of “classical music” is? Early Music, Beethoven Symphonies, Bartok piano music, Harry Partch, all wrapped up in one? Same for all other genres: Opera, Rock, Indie, all the rest. How can these things be dependably defined?
What kind of professor would design this godawfully flawed and meaningless study and then—mirabile dictu!—find it “significant” and “surprising”? North is Director of Psychology. I mean, what? How does this pass for anything? How does this genius, who obviously has not the first idea about how music works or how to think about it, come up with these idiotic, arbitrary, entirely uncodifiable categories and think he can base an actual study on them?
Or are the categories defined by the test subjects? Yeah, I pretty much like, y’know, Rock. Guess that means I agree with other Rock fans about what Rock is. And other Classical fans, and so on.
For pity’s sake. I don’t often agree with the pseudo-populist, know-nothing hysteria about Those Silly Professors and Their Resource-Devouring, Useless Studies, but…it’s hard to think anything more charitable about this. This is the stupidest, most incompetently conceived, mostly completely pointless study involving music I have ever seen.
At least he isn’t a music professor. Better Psychology should take the hit on this one.