People who have musical training have higher IQs than those who do not, research reveals.
The effect may be as much as 10-15 IQ points, which is the difference between being average and above average in intelligence.
Being interested in learning music is linked to greater intelligence along with certain key personality traits.
Children high in the personality trait of openness to experience are more interested in taking music lessons, the study also revealed.
People who are open to experience are curious, interested in beauty and new ideas.
Being open to experience is also a strong sign of a higher IQ.
The personality trait of conscientiousness was also important to children sticking at musical training.
Conscientious people are loyal, precise and like to get the job done.
Debunking the Mozart effect
Early studies suggested that musical training might raise your IQ — dubbed the ‘Mozart effect’.
However, this is a myth, explains study co-author, Professor Glenn Schellenberg:
“The prevailing bias is that music training causes improvements in intelligence.
But you can’t infer causation simply because children with music training have higher IQs than children who haven’t had music training.”
In fact, involvement in musical training is a sign of higher IQ rather than a result.
The present study included 167 10- to 12-year olds and 118 young adults.
All were asked about any musical training they had, their personalities and had their IQs tested.
The results showed that people with higher IQs were more likely to study music.
However, personality was a stronger predictor of those who stuck with music lessons.
Professor Schellenberg said:
“The differences in personality are at least as important as cognitive variables among adults, and even more important among children in predicting who is likely to take music lessons and for how long.
Much previous research may have overestimated the effects of music training and underestimated the role of pre-existing differences between children who do and do not take music lessons.
Children who take music lessons may have relatively high levels of curiosity, motivation, persistence, concentration, selective attention, self-discipline and organization.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Corrigall et al., 2013).