Get access

Why More Intelligent Individuals Like Classical Music


Satoshi Kanazawa, Managerial Economics and Strategy Group, Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK.



The origin of values and preferences is an unresolved theoretical problem in social and behavioral sciences. The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, derived from the Savanna Principle and a theory of the evolution of general intelligence, suggests that more intelligent individuals are more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences than less intelligent individuals but that general intelligence has no effect on the acquisition and espousal of evolutionarily familiar values and preferences. Recent work on the evolution of music suggests that music in its evolutionary origin was always vocal and that purely instrumental music is evolutionarily novel. The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis would then imply that more intelligent individuals are more likely to prefer purely instrumental music than less intelligent individuals, but general intelligence has no effect on the preference for vocal music. The analyses of American (General Social Surveys) and British (British Cohort Study) data are consistent with this hypothesis. Additional analyses suggest that the effect of intelligence on musical preference is not a function of the cognitive complexity of music. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.