File this under weird science: Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University has just completed a thorough investigation into the ways musical taste and personality type line up. They’ve discovered, in other words, what our record collection says about our behavior at a cocktail party—a link we always suspected to exist but didn’t have the data to prove. Fortunately, the scientists up in Scotland had 36,000 participants from 60 different countries at their disposal, enough to make their study the largest of its kind ever undertaken. And their conclusions proved equally dramatic. “The tribalism of shared musical taste, if you like, seems to overcome the tribalism of shared passports,” says Prof. Adrian North. One wonders how much the internet has to do with reinforcing this “tribalism of shared musical taste,” but no matter…
The results seem both to confirm and dis-confirm a host of stereotypes. Jazz-heads are sociable and creative (you know, ’cause jazz is so “cutting edge”); country fans are outgoing and hard-working (’cause they work on a farm or some such); dance fans are creative, outgoing, and “not gentle” (you know, ’cause they’re always dancing and on drugs). The BBC expressed its greatest surprise at the similarities between classical music and heavy metal fans. The study showed both groups to be easygoing and creative, yet introverted. The major difference being classical music fans had higher self-esteem—an obvious fact if you’ve ever had a younger brother with Dream Theater posters on his walls or can remember your 13-year-old Metallica-obsessed self. Though the fact that both genres’ fans are otherwise quiet similar isn’t that shocking considering the thinly veiled classical ambitions expressed by so many top tier metal acts. It’s just that metal fans, as the study tells us, aren’t “hard working” enough to apply to a conservatory.
You may be pleased to know that “Indie” fans, as Prof. North describes them, have the most negative personality traits besides their metal-loving cousins. It seems all those Crystal Castles and Okkervil River fans aren’t hard working, aren’t gentle, and have low self-esteem. Aww, dig! Now we finally have scientific proof that hipsters are lazy, unhygienic, brooding assholes.
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