Scientific research tells us that learning to play an instrument is good for your brain, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the smartest among us apparently prefer to listen to instrumental music. 

A recent paper in the American Psychological Association journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences identified a relationship between intelligence and music sans lyrics.

"We found intelligence to be a significant predictor of the preference for instrumental music, but not of the preference for vocal-instrumental music," reads the study abstract.

Researchers from Oxford Brookes University surveyed and tested 467 Croatian high school students to assess their smarts, their preferred type of music, and how they use music.

The result was that students who scored higher in intelligence were associated with an ear for wordless music genres like big band, classical, and ambient or chill electronica. Another finding was that students who listened to music cognitively--that is, for the enjoyment of analyzing or appreciating the composition or technique--also preferred instrumental music.

While the work finds a connection between intelligence and a preference for instrumentals, the authors acknowledge that the research has its limitations because individuals tend to be complicated piles of characteristics.

"Intelligence is only one of the constructs connected to musical preferences, there are many others, such as personality traits, gender, age, degree of education, and family income," study co-author Elena Racevska told PsyPost.

So does listening to Beethoven, Coltrane, or Tycho make you smarter? No, that's definitely not what this research says. But it does seem to suggest that if you are a highly intelligent person, you're more likely to enjoy getting down to jams without all the noise from those silly vocals.

And the odds of this are especially good if you go to high school in Croatia. 

Published on: May 22, 2019
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