It’s True: Not Everyone Likes Music


When I was in high school, me and all my buddies were into music.  We bought records, went to concerts and even formed a band together.  But there was one in our group who didn’t seem to share our musical obsessions.  He never bought records (even though he could afford them), didn’t listen to the radio, never came with us to shows and had no interest in having anything to do with our motley band.  Outside of a couple of John Cougar Mellancamp–he was still called that back them–albums, he seemed pretty much immune to music’s charms.

I’m sure you’ve know someone for whom music just wasn’t a big deal. But science would like to know why.  From Discovery.com:

Some people love music so much that they crave it. Now, researchers think the opposite might also be true: in a study published in Current Biology today, an experiment shows that some people may not find any pleasure in music.To pinpoint whether the condition, called musical anhedonia, existed, researchers analyzed the reactions of three different groups of people to both a music task and a monetary reward task. The people were grouped according to their pleasure ratings in response to music (high, average or low).When the participants were asked to rate the degree of pleasure they were experiencing while listening to pleasant music, some reported no pleasurable response — and showed no automatic responses to pleasing music. Those people did respond positively to the monetary reward task, showing that the brain’s reward center wasn’t to blame for the inability to experience rewards of all kinds.

Instead, “These results point to the existence of specific musical anhedonia and suggest that there may be individual differences in access to the reward system,” the authors wrote.

This might explain a lot about that one friend in your group.  Continue reading.

(Thanks to John for the link.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “It’s True: Not Everyone Likes Music

  • March 7, 2014 at 9:32 am
    Permalink

    I wonder how they determined what was “pleasant” music. Consider that classical music is played at some public places to keep surly youth from loitering.

    Reply

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