Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Some people, including those in positions of power, are obsessed with intelligence.

But there are so many ways to see it and judge it.

How can you begin to categorize those with brains and those with mere smoke and mirrors?

Is there any behavior that intelligent people gravitate to that could, at least, offer a signal?

Well, I've just collapsed into a fascinating piece of research that has made me consider -- and reconsider -- the essence of intelligence.

The research, performed by Elena Racevska, a PhD student at Oxford Brookes University and Meri Tadinac of the University of Zagreb, enjoys the magical title Intelligence, music preferences, and uses of music from the perspective of evolutionary psychology.

Racevska told PsyPost that she was fascinated by the idea, hypothesized by Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics, that intelligence sprouted in humans because they were desperate to deal successfully with things they'd never seen before.

So she and her fellow researcher devised a nonverbal intelligence test and a music questionnaire, got hold of 467 high school students in Croatia and wondered what they'd discover.

In Racevska's words: 

Individuals with higher intelligence test scores are more likely to prefer predominantly instrumental music styles.

There you have it. All those Bach-listening, Kraftwerk-loving, ambient-adoring strange people in your life are actually the brainy ones.

Are you ready for the twist? (No, not the song.): 

There are no differences in the preference for predominantly vocal or vocal-instrumental music that can be predicted with intelligence test scores.

That's a little annoying. I was rather hoping we could begin to segment the people in our lives according to their musical inspirations.

But then there was this: 

We revealed the significant role of cognitive use of music as a predictor of the preference for instrumental music.

In essence, those who delved more deeply into the craft of a piece of music were more likely to listen to Philip Glass than Van Halen.

Racevska was keen to stress limitations and the need for more research. She wouldn't be a researcher if she didn't.

Still, research around music is a truly fascinating area. 

Recently, I wrote about research that suggested depressed people listen to sad music because it actually makes them feel better. 

Not because it made them wallow in their misery, but because it's low energy level was soothing.

At the other end of the emotional spectrum was neuroscience research that tried to name the 10 most uplifting songs in the world.

Queen's Don't Stop Me Now was the winner.

For now, though, we merely have a new excuse to delve more deeply into what people are listening to.

Opera, you said? Oh, dear.

Published on: Jun 1, 2019
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