A new NYU study attempts to establish a link between music preference and psychopathic tendencies.
Your musical taste says a lot about you. It can dictate which group of people you might call friends or not, what your career trajectory might be and what sounds are emitted from your car stereo on a regular basis. There's a lot of information that can be gleaned from noting which tunes hit your eardrums during a given day but imagine, for a moment, if that observational technique was bottled up and used for scientific research? What if your song preferences could determine if you were a psychopath or not? According to details published by The Washington Post, a group at NYU are attempting to answer that very question.
Researchers Pascal Wallisch and Nicole Leal, the latter a graduate of the school, wanted to find out if there was any link between what music a given individual consumed and how high they scored on a test that measures their psychopathy level. To be clear, the article defines psychopathy as aa personality disorder characterized by manipulativeness and a lack of empathy. Over 190 NYU students participated in the study and, though it hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed journal as of yet, the findings were presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington recently, with roughly 30,000 attendees taking in the info. The results were interesting to say that least.
Multiple hip-hop related acts scored high on the correlation scale when it came to musical preference and high levels of psychopathy, as measured by a carefully formulated questionnaire. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” the track that won him both an Academy and a Grammy award, was near the top of the list, as was Blackstreet’s “No Diggity." Elsewhere, Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” was also popular with students who ranked near the top of the psychopathy scale. An example of a song on the opposite end of the spectrum is the 1980's hit from rock group Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing."
The connective tissue between these two threads hasn't been fully established by researchers, who are still looking for a distinct pattern in the data. The original hypothesis was that psychopaths could prefer music with no lyrics at all, falling in line with the movie stereotype involving antagonists and their love for classical music. However, based on these findings, that doesn't seem to be the case.