Music and Brilliance

Recently I have found an interesting research in the Psychological Science journal, titled An Emphasis on Brilliance Fosters Masculinity-Contest Cultures. Although quite a ‘woke’ topic, it cought my interest after I had a better look at the graph depicting the Relationship between perceived emphasis on brilliance and perceptions of a masculinity-contest culture at the field level in the pilot study

Do you see the one unique outlier the furthest to the right? Music! 

Yes, music is perceived as giving the highest emphasis on brilliance, amongst many other artistic and scientific fields including mathematics, physics, film, philosophy, or computer science.

Before I go any further with this article, I want to stress a few important points regarding this study I mention here:

– First is the fact, that these study results are not any exact, measurable, or specific quantities. The article talks about ‘perceived’ emphasis and ‘perceptions’. There were 2,217 participants (870 lay people and 1,347 academics from more than 30 disciplines) over three different studies. 

– Second fact is, that the study focused exclusively on US participants, so these results may not be relevant to other parts of the world. But for me as a Canadian, due to the close proximity of the USA, the results are still very interesting. 

– The study characterizes brilliance as an exeptional intelligence in any field such as economy, mathematics, or philosophy. 

If we look at the graph above, we can see that after surveying over two thousand participats, the study team has found that neuroscience had the highest score in perceived masculinity-content culture, and music the highest score in perceived emphasis on brilliance. 

One commenter on X (Twitter) jokingly asked – ‘Where does this leave the neuroscience of music?’

And here I have to mention two eminent Canadian researchers, who are amongst the top in this field worldwide – Isabelle Peretz and Robert Zatorre, co-founders of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound research (BRAMS), a multi-university consortium that is jointly affiliated with McGill University and the Université de Montréal.

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