A new study has found a correlation between higher testosterone levels and lower interest in classical music – but only in men. The study, led by Japanese researchers Hirokazu Doi and Kazuyuki Shinohara from Nagasaki University, found that men with higher levels of testosterone were less interested in “sophisticated music”, which in this study referred to classical, jazz and avant-garde music.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the link between biological predisposition and music preference,” the researchers wrote in their paper Negative correlation between salivary testosterone concentration and preference for sophisticated music in males, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
As part of the study, the researchers asked 37 male and 39 female participants – mostly in their early 20s – to listen to 25 short musical extracts and evaluate them on a scale from “Like Very Much” to “Don’t Like At All”. Before the test, the testosterone levels of each participant was measured using a saliva sample. The participants were also required to complete a questionnaire detailing demographic information and musical experience.
“The main finding was a significant negative correlation between testosterone level and a preference for sophisticated music including classical, jazz and avant-garde music in males,” the researchers wrote. This negative correlation was observed only in males, however.
The researchers posited one possible explanation for the results. “People with high testosterone level, especially males, are well established as exhibiting high dominance motivation and antisocial or rebellious behaviour, such as rule violation,” they wrote. “The young generation tended to think that the purpose of listening to classical music is to please authoritative figures, which is in sheer contrast to rebellious attitude.”
While this study suggests that hormone levels may affect musical preferences, there is still more research to be done in this area. “One important limitation of the present study is that we recruited only Japanese university or vocational school students with a relatively homogenous cultural background,” the researchers acknowledged. “The influence of testosterone on personality and music preference should be tested and validated under various other cultural and social environments.”