Prince Gomolvilas

What Does Your Taste in Music Say About Your Intelligence (or Lack Thereof)?

Filed By Prince Gomolvilas | March 22, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment
Tags: Aerosmith, Beethoven, Ben Harper, Beyonce, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Facebook, Justin Timberlake, Led Zeppelin, Lil Wayne, Sufjan Stevens, T.I., Weezer

If you're a fan of Beyonce, then you're probably kind of dumb. Just thought you'd like to know. Also, Justin Timberlake and Aerosmith listeners aren't the brightest lights on the Christmas tree either, so, if you're one of those, don't apply for Jeopardy. Just put on your headphones and accept the hard fact that there are some things - well, actually, many things - that you will never understand. The sooner you realize that, the happier you will be.

You see, a CalTech student named Virgil Griffith conducted a highly scientific study about how music tastes correlate with intelligence. By highly scientific, I mean he figured out college students' favorite music by looking at their Facebook profiles and compared that data to a college population's overall S.A.T. scores.


The New Yorker broke it down like this:

Students who listened to pop stars like Beyonce and Lil Wayne are stupider than students who listen to Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, or Beethoven....

The list is an excellent instrument of provocation, especially because it seems a little, well, racist, or at least classist....

Interestingly enough, Billy Joel has the fifteenth-smartest preference population (average S.A.T. score of 1147), while jazz (that's right -- the entire genre) has the one-hundred-and-twenty-seventh (average S.A.T. score of 946). Led Zeppelin beats Weezer, and Weezer beats Ben Harper. The top three: Beethoven, Sufjan Stevens, and Counting Crows (hey, no one ever said that intelligence was the same thing as good taste). The bottom three: Beyonce, T.I., and Lil Wayne (hey, no one ever said intelligence was the same as popular success).

Griffith reveals the results of his research on Music That Makes You Dumb, which includes a handy chart in which you can evaluate how smart you and your friends and family are.

My own music tastes are very eclectic, so the chart tells me that I am simultaneously smart and dumb, which must be some kind of achievement in and of itself. The study doesn't really reveal what it means that I am obsessed with boy bands like New Kids on the Block (excuse me - I mean "NKOTB"), but I can make assumptions. I'm kind of a stupid pervert. But you see? I realize that; therefore, I am happy.

What about you?

(h/t Ashley Aguirre)

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

I'd be throwing THIS guy for a loop! LOL I'll go from Motown to KISS to Teena Marie to AC/DC to The Three Degrees to Aerosmith to TLC to CHIC to Rush to Crystal Gayle.

Beyonce fans will likely only know two things: how to throw a boyfriend out, and how to write 10 hit songs about throwing your boyfriend out.

A. J. Lopp | March 22, 2009 4:58 PM

Well, Beyonce knows three things: how to throw a boyfriend out, how to write hit songs about throwing your boyfriend out, and when to stop throwing your boyfriend out. Hint: Think about holding onto him if he is worth about $300 million and still counting.

Well ... du-uh!

Hey - I rather like some Beyonce tunes. :)

I think I would be throwing this guy for a loop too, my musical taste is all over the place depending on my mood or what I'm doing.

Configuring a router or studying..Mozart, Telemann or Bethoven.

Drinking tequila.. Metal or Punk of some kind, Romones, an old Dio tape, perhaps.

fixing a printer..jazz on the radio.

working in the yard...B.O.C. (for you old timers)
especially the some enchanted evening album. Live rock is good for hard work. Makes the time fly. No AC/DC, it's too overplayed as is Led Zep.

hanging out with my girl..Penis Flytrap or one of her favorite goth bands, as long as it isn't to mopy, no Gossomer(too mopy)and definately no freaking emo crap. You wanna slash your wrists? Been there, don't wast your time on that bullsh*t. Emo sucks!

I never got into Beyonce or any modern pop, it lacks substance, even old hair metal bands have more to say, even if they repeat it over and over. And no I don't listen to old hair band music.

How 'bout a little Twister Sista and a beer on the patio? It's a nice day outside. Kick back and rock.

No rap and no country please. Except Johnny Cash, the man in black is nice and dark. Classic.

Sometimes I just like it quiet, so I can hear muthaf*cka's sneakin up one me!!

Sometimes silence is the best music of all.

A. J. Lopp | March 22, 2009 4:41 PM
Sometimes silence is the best music of all.

You definitely need to check out a classic composition called 4' 33" by a composer named John Cage.


..good old 80's shovel up the ass power metal.

Indeed, metal will never die.

You are missing several exclamation points. I'm SO disappointed.

The things you can get a degree for creating!
This could become one of those Facebook questionnaires.

Hmmm... the methodology's a little troubling, what with the known racial bias of the SAT and the way that musical tastes are often defined along cultural (and in America that means racial) lines.

Although I do have to say that if someone can actually listen to Lil' Wayne, he or she definitely has some problems.

But my favorite bands aren't even listed on there! I wonder how smart you have to be to love the Dirty Projectors... :)

Although I should point out that the smartest musician (can I put it like that?) on the list would be, in today's American racial paradigm, a black man. I'm sure there's meaning to that.

This seems like a project some indie rock freak would do to prove that his/her obsessive fascination with the latest obscure art-noise band was an indicator of superior intelligence. In other words, something I would have done in high school. ;-)

I'm just glad that I stopped thinking that there's any strict correlation between what music someone likes and their intelligence. Or I'd have missed out on some really hot Beyonce tracks.


I work in a gay club in Buffalo, and from time to time we get the request for Reggaeton, and Soca. We never play it and feel that only simple people request it... looks like I have some evidence to take back to the booth.

Given that the SAT endeavors to predict academic success in higher level educational institutes, NOT intellegence and that correlation does not imply causation, it is more accurate to say, "Loving Beyonce means you get bad grades, but loving Beethoven means you get great grades." Once you factor in performativity and untruths in online profiles, the most accurate conclusion would be to say that "Posting, publically, that you love Beyonce means you will probably get bad grades in college, and telling everyone online, including your classics professor, that you LOVE Beethoven suggests that you will get good grades."

Given Virgil's incidiary title I wouldn't be surprised if he skipped reading his methodology textbook to get to Best Buy to purchase TI's greatest hits.

(NB: This isn't the first study to suggest, however, that pop music is for dumb people. I learned about that corrolation in AP Psych seven years ago. And immediately switched all my presets to classic rock only.)

Looks like those of us who like the Grateful Dead and the Eagles, are thorougly average. Phish fans scoring better than GD or Dave Matthews fans is strange. I knew U2 and Bob Marley would score high.

Where was Mozart? Stravinsky? Gershwin?

A. J. Lopp | March 23, 2009 3:16 PM

I surmise that if the artist was not mentioned on someone's Facebook page, then he or she didn't get included --- like Alex said with his tongue in his cheek, this study is "highly scientific" ... as are most cow farts, if you study them to get your Ph.D. ...

A. J. Lopp | March 23, 2009 3:21 PM
You see, a CalTech student named Virgil Griffith conducted a highly scientific study about how music tastes correlate with intelligence.

Ooops! It was Prince who said sarcastically that this study was "highly scientific," not Alex.

Alex is always trying to take credit for my sarcasm!


Holy shit people who listen to lil wayne take the SATs?

Ehmm thi sucks because apparently americans don't even know the genres of House or Trance and Techno and consider it all "Techno", most importantly they probably think that hard-style = Techno which it doesn't.
Another retarded american test.