Sunday, March 6, 2011

Loves Metallica, hates self

If you're a Metallica fan, low self-esteem may not be your only problem: Add social awkwardness and a predisposition for slacking into the mix as well. (For this, you may not want to wear your fading "Tour 1998" shirt to your next job interview.)

The source: A study out of Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University in 2008 looking to gain insight into our musical tastes and how the content of our iPod may correlate with that of our character. The study also claimed to have collected data on the largest sample ever taken: 36,518 subjects were queried on 104 different musical styles before taking a personality test. If you can imagine the legions of marketers drooling over this bumper trove then you won't be surprised to learn researchers already considered the possibility. The study's author Professor Adrian North notes:

"If you know a person's music preference you can tell what kind of person they are, who to sell to.
There are obvious implications for the music industry who are are worried about declining CD sales." [Facebook users have already seen this in action.]

Also: "One of the most surprising things [discovered in the study] is the similarities between fans of classical music and heavy metal. They're both creative and at ease but not outgoing.... The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally depressed and of being a danger to themselves and society in general. But they are quite delicate things."

Take that fans of Slayer: You fragile flowers. (As, apparently, are also fans of Chart Pop and Soulsters but the Prof. seems to single out Metal in particular.)

If you're into Radiohead, according to the Prof. you're no better than the Metallica fan: I.e., if you overcame the unlikelihood of snagging a girlfriend then you're probably living off her as well (socially awkward and loath to work). And while your self-esteem may be pitiable, you're not as delicate as the Metallica fan; Instead, in the parlance of the study, you're "not gentle" (whatever that means).

Country fans, on the other hand, besides leaning overwhelmingly Republican (that's my own bit of data, the study doesn't mention political affiliations), they're hard working and outgoing. (This could partly explain the popularity of the Southern mullet.)

And though most Jazz fans are known for their musical snobbery, the study claims they have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, and at ease. Classical lovers are shy and just about every musical category gets credited for having fans that are "creative." All, i.e., except one: Chart Pop. (Sorry little Gaga Monsters!)

As to why a slacker is drawn to Metal and a hard worker to Country will,
alas, have to wait for another study. Also no mention of how music tastes inform dress or what your chances of joining a terror cell
are if your ears delight in maqâmât modes. Or: What to make of our iPod playlists larded up with music that crosses genres? (Heaven forbid!) Can't wait to see those studies. In the meantime, we'll have to suffice with the exploitation of our shopping habits.

For a list of some of categories and how they stack up go here.

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