Science & Tech

Scientists establish link between our music taste and our moral compass

Scientists establish link between our music taste and our moral compass
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New research has found that there's a link between a person’s moral compass and music taste, which means that your Spotify Wrapped could tell us a whole lot about what kind of person you really are.

Scientists at Queen Mary University in London teamed up with the ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy for a new study published in the journal PLOS One.

While you might think it’s natural for certain music to be connected with ways of living and other political or personal persuasions, bringing them together never been an exact art.

However, experts believe the new research shows a clear link between music and a person’s moral compass.

"Our study provides compelling evidence that music preferences can serve as a window into an individual's moral values," said Dr Charalampos Saitis, one of the author’s senior authors.

How did they determine this? Well, 1,480 people took part in the study by answering questionnaires which focused on their moral values.

Then, this was cross referenced against the artists and bands each participant had liked on their Facebook page.

"We presumed that if a user liked the Page of a specific artist on Facebook, then that artist’s most famous songs reflect the user’s music preferences," the study authors wrote.

The lyrics and key features of each of the top songs were then analysed by the team, before using machine learning algorithms to predict the moral values of the participants.

The authors wrote: "For this work, we operationalise moral values via the Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) which describes the psychological ground of morality in terms of five innate foundations, formed by a two-faced scope between so-called virtues and vices. These foundations are Care/ Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Purity/Degradation."

While some question the validity of the MFT in the scientific community, arguing that it doesn’t consider all areas of morality in humans, it has been used by psychologists since it was created in 2004.

While the lyrical content of songs might seem like the most obvious way to gauge a person’s moral inclinations, the pitch and timbre of songs was also used to calculate participants’ levels of “care” and “fairness”.

Vjosa Preniqi, one of the lead study authors and a PhD student from Queen Mary, said: "Our findings reveal that music is not merely a source of entertainment or aesthetic pleasure; it is also a powerful medium that reflects and shapes our moral sensibilities. By understanding this connection, we can open up new avenues for music-based interventions that promote positive moral development."

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