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What your musical tastes say about your social class — a new study

Jennifer Van Evra

We all have our favourite music — but according to a new study, your musical tastes may reveal more about you than you think.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia conducted 1,600 telephone interviews with adults in Vancouver and Toronto, and asked them about their likes and dislikes within 21 musical genres.

They also asked about their age, racial identity, immigrant status, educational attainment and household income, with the categories ranging from less than $40,000 per year to over $150,000 per year.

What they found was that wealth and education don't influence a person's breadth of taste — but it definitely seems to shape the types of music we choose.

Poorer, less educated people tended to like country, disco, easy listening, golden oldies, heavy metal and rap.

Their wealthier and better-educated counterparts tended toward genres such as classical, blues, jazz, opera, choral, pop, reggae, rock, world and musical theatre.

Table published in the Canadian Review of Sociology authored by UBC sociology professor Gerry Veenstra.

Published in the Canadian Review of Sociology, the study, which was authored by UBC sociology professor Gerry Veenstra, also found that the respondents tended to dislike the musical styles that were outside their class.

For example, those with the least education were more than eight times more likely to dislike classical music, while higher-class listeners disliked more "lowbrow" genres such as country, easy listening and golden oldies.

Not surprisingly, the widest divides were between those who liked hip-hop and choral, hip-hop and folk, heavy metal and choral, heavy metal and easy listening, and heavy metal and golden oldies.

Jazz, interestingly, was liked by both the lowbrow and highbrow respondents.

You can find the full study here.