Bono, or Beethoven? (Photo: Getty Images)
Whether you listen to pop music as you sweat it out in the gym or to reggae as you unwind at the end of a stressful day, researchers from the University of British Columbia say the songs on your iPod can reveal more than just your musical preferences — they can reveal what social class you fall into.
The study, which is sure to spark some controversy, was published in a recent issue of the Canadian Review of Sociology. It was comprised of 1,595 adults living in either Toronto or the Vancouver metropolitan area. During the telephone interviews, participants were questioned about their musical likes and dislikes of 21 musical genres, along with being asked to identify their most and least favorite.
Now, before we get into the results, there’s no need for the so-called “lower class” members to feel insulted: This study determined that one’s love for Bono or Beethoven is not just influenced by class. Age, gender, immigrant status and ethnicity are just a few other components that shape our musical tastes in interesting and complex ways.
So here’s how it played out.
Those who were poorer and less educated most likely preferred:
- Easy listening
- Golden oldies
- Heavy metal
The wealthier and better-educated volunteers were most likely to crank up:
- World and musical theater
Study author Gerry Veenstra, PhD, Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, tells Yahoo Health how the term “social class” was defined in this research. Veenstra, by the way, says her prefers easy listening, musical theater and pop).
“Social class is a difficult, vague term and there are lots of ways of conceptualizing and measuring it,” he explains. He evaluated a number of philosophies and ended up “equating social class with socioeconomic status, which produced the main findings.”
The type of music people disliked also contributed to the division of classes.
For example, those who were the least educated were eight times more likely to say “no way” to classical music, compared to those who received the highest levels of education. “What upper class people like is disliked by the lower class, and vice versa,” said Veenstra.
“Many different aspects of cultural life — music, sport, religion, food, etc. — are affected by social class, and so it’s perhaps not surprising that my measures of social class turned out to be empirically associated with my measures of musical tastes,” says Veenstra. “However, each particular genre probably deserves its own dedicated study, though, in order to know why a given taste is structured by class.”
What do you think about the findings? A bunch of bunk, or do you think they hold true?