Prog Rock Vindicated!

It’s been a while since I indulged here my deplorable taste for prog rock, but as I’ve been inhaling second-hand pot smoke for the last two days in Boulder, CO, I think I have a legitimate excuse. Also, because it allows me to employ some perfect social science confirmation bias.

The Economist this week includes a story about a pair of social psychologists who have attempted an empirical study of how personality types match up with musical tastes. Here’s a description of what they did:

Dr Rentfrow, Dr Nave and their colleagues used the internet to recruit 22,252 participants of different ages and backgrounds from all around the world. In particular, 45% of their volunteers were over 22 and thus unlikely to be undergraduates. To work around the problem of letting participants define what they liked, they presented each of these volunteers with 25 excerpts of music that had not been publicly released but had been assessed and classified by expert musicologists. Each volunteer was also given a standard personality test that rates the five main components of personality: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

And here’s the key takeaway from the results:

Openness, Dr Rentfrow and Dr Nave found, was associated with an appreciation of “sophisticated” music (defined as inspiring, complex and dynamic) and a converse lack of appreciation for “mellow” music (romantic, relaxing and slow) and “contemporary” music (percussive, electric and not sad).

“Sophisticated” music is code for prog rock if you ask me. Which means we prog rockers are more open. I hope the authors follow up with a study that examines musical taste and political ideology. I suspect those results will be similarly interesting.

Meanwhile, here’s scene from yesterday’s face-melt-inducing incursion behind the lines:

Hello, Boulder, I’m baaa-ack!

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