The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Music is mirror of lifestyle
- Take part in a survey on how tunes & habits swing together

New Delhi, Sept. 14: Your favourite choice of music might provide a peephole into your behaviour and personality, says a study exploring connections between musical tastes and lifestyle.

The study — first conducted in the UK and extended worldwide on Thursday via the Net -- is trying to determine how preferences for specific styles of music might be linked to age, education, earnings and other lifestyle factors.

Psychologist Adrian North at the University of Leicester in the UK wants 10,000 people from around the world to take part in the extended online survey, providing details of musical tastes and responding to lifestyle-related questions.

“We are desperate to get as many people as possible from India to respond,” North told The Telegraph. “India has a tremendously important musical heritage and we are very keen to reflect this in the study.”

Since the global survey went live today — at — it has drawn 2,500 responses.

North’s previous study involving 2,500 people in the UK has already revealed distinct patterns — some anticipated, some surprising.

“The earlier study confirmed some stereotypes about who listen to certain musical styles. Fans of western classical music and opera were wealthier, while fans of rap were more likely to have committed crime,” North said.

But some results were less stereotypical. “About 45 per cent of fans of classical music and opera had committed a driving offence such as speeding — and this percentage was higher than for any other group of fans,” he said.

The UK study, which will soon appear in the journal Psychology of Music, also showed that fans of hip-hop were the least likely to be religious and were most likely to have tried illegal drugs. Fans of classical music and opera were better educated and also paid a much higher proportion of their credit card bills each month than fans of dance music. Six per cent of opera fans had a doctorate degree compared to none of the fans of chart pop music.

The global survey is designed to overcome the limitations of the UK study by seeking a greater number of participants and including a wider range of musical styles from around the world. India’s Bollywood music, Carnatic, Dandiya, Qawaali, and Bengal’s folk music Baul are among musical styles incorporated into the extended survey.

North expects that the survey and the analysis of the findings will take about six months.

The questions in the international survey are not as probing as in the UK survey. So the researchers will be able to pinpoint links between musical preferences and a small set of factors such as education, income, and elements of personality.

The main limitation of the UK study was that it used a sample only from the UK. However, the 2,500 participants were given the option to say whether they liked Bollywood music as their favourite musical style. A very small number of people — less than 50 – selected Bollywood music. This number was too small to make any meaningful analysis of musical tastes and lifestyle.

The survey that North conducted in the UK did include 162 people of South Asian origin. But most preferred western-style music to Bollywood.

The top five musical styles among these respondents were Rock and Blue (32 votes), Hip-hop (23 votes), Dance (13 votes), South (10 votes), and Chart pop music by Britney Spears or Kylie Minogue (9 votes).

Rap fans also provided some surprises. “Although rap fans are stereotyped as liberal, we found that they had several political and moral beliefs that were not consistent with this,” North said.

For example, among all fans, rap fans were least likely to agree with recycling and the development of alternative energy such as solar energy and were least likely to support state-funded healthcare.

North and his colleagues at Leicester have been investigating the role of music in everyday life and the functions of music among adolescent groups and in diverse commercial environments.

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