People with musical talent have a higher IQ, research finds.
Being good at recognising a tune and having rhythm is linked to higher nonverbal intelligence, psychologists have discovered.
It doesn’t matter whether or not people have had musical training — musical aptitude is still linked to higher IQ.
People with an aptitude for music are more likely to study it and improve their skills even further, which further enhances their IQ
The conclusions come from a study of 133 people, around half of whom had had musical training.
Many studies have already linked musical skill to higher IQ, the authors write:
“Musically trained children and adults score higher on intelligence tests than their untrained counterparts.
Moreover, as duration of training increases,
so does intelligence.”
However, this study wanted to see what comes first.
All were given tests of both melody and rhythm.
The melody test involved listening to short tunes and judging whether they were the same or different.
The rhythm test was something similar, except with beats rather than notes.
The results showed that people with more musical ability had higher intelligence, even when musical training was taken into account.
So,the link between being musical and a higher IQ is down to both an aptitude for music and training.
At its root, the link between music and IQ is partly genetic, the authors write:
“…both music aptitude and intelligence have significant genetic components that overlap to an extent.
The specific genotypic structures of general intelligence and music aptitude are not well understood, but it is clear that intelligence is substantially heritable, and that the impact of genetic factors increases from childhood (heritability ≈50%) to adulthood (≈80%)”
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, 2013) 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 Intelligence (Swaminathan et al., 2017).