Musical Taste Correlates with SAT Scores?

Does human intelligence have any connection to the type of music a person listens to? Can we define human intelligence? How do you measure human intelligence? Do SAT scores accurately measure human intelligence? Is there any evidence that SAT scores accurately predict educational or workplace performance?

I am skeptical 1) that we can measure human intelligence at this time; and 2) that SAT scores are an accurate measurement of anything save a very narrow form of test-taking ability that adds little if any value in the real world.

Yet Virgil Griffith purports to measure human intelligence with SAT scores and proceeded to chart musical tastes based on average SAT scores. Is this real data science using the scientific method?

Griffith’s chart shows that Sufjan Stevens, Bob Dylan, The Shins, and the Counting Crows as the bands smart people prefer. Really?

The chart also asserts that Lil Wayne, Beyoncé, The Used, and gospel music are preferred by stupid people. Wow!

Dear readers, I sincerely ask you, do smart folks really favor John Mayer over Pink Floyd?

See chart below. Click here for larger image.

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Tags: Causation, Correlation, Data, Musical, SAT, Science, Scores, Taste


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Comment by Gary Baggett on October 27, 2015 at 9:56am


The question that I have is how did he measure the "SAT" values vs the music?  I could, if I wanted to try, find people with SAT scores >1300 listened to music other than Beethoven.  What about Mozart or List?....and at the opposite end of the scale, what Gospel and Beyonce'.  I am sure people listen to more than that.

This is just a bad study in so many ways.

Comment by Gary Baggett on October 27, 2015 at 9:45am

I really do not think this is completely valid.  You are missing the argument "Nature vs. Nurture".  I would suggest that the music that your parents listened to will be ingrained into your subconscious.  How you were raised makes a huge difference in the music you listen to.  I enjoy 1040's music because my parents listened to this type.  I also enjoy musical theater because my parents took me as a child.

I have also read a psychological paper that states that your favorite music is the music that you heard while in your early-mid teens.  Stating this, you probably need to scale this according to age also.  Older people unfortunately like me, do not care about Beyonce' but I also wouldn't know a Counting Crows song if I heard one. I am not especially fond of country music but then no one that I was around listened to country music either.   So,  Nurture and age variables are two left out.  I am not sure how you would measure the "nurture" part of this...so I truly do not believe that this chart is correct.  

BTW... forget SAT and go for IQ...  SAT is a measure of knowledge not intelligence.  Knowledge is learned and retained.  Intelligence is a measure (IMHO) of how well you use the knowledge that you have.

IMHO:  Wisdom(using knowledge) is a function of Intelligence and Experience.  F(w) = I * E

Comment by Brendan White on October 24, 2015 at 8:12am

I believe this to be accurate enough.

Sufjan Stevens wrote one of the most beautiful songs of all time.


Beyonce (despite what Kanye West says) wrote one of the worst...


I think Phish, and maybe the Fray are rated a little high. My opinion of course.

Comment by Daniel Lieb on October 23, 2015 at 9:56am

Don't laugh.  Just Google something like "Classical Music for babies" and see how many items come up. What was that about causation again?

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