British Columbia

Musical taste shaped by wealth and education, UBC study finds

UBC research shows heavy metal and rap popular with those with low incomes and classical, jazz and pop popular with those who are wealthier

UBC research shows heavy metal and rap popular with lower class and pop liked by higher class

Beyoncé performs onstage during the 56th Grammy Awards in 2014. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Whether its Metallica or Miles Davis or Beyoncé booming from your stereo, your musical tastes may say more about you than you think.

Social class plays a role in shaping the kind of music people like and dislike, according to Gerry Veenstra, professor at UBC's department of sociology.

His study published in the Canadian Review of Sociology involved nearly 1,600 telephone interviews with adults in Vancouver and Toronto.

He found that people living on low incomes with less education tended to like country, disco, easy listening, golden oldies, heavy metal and rap.

Wealthier people tended to like blues, choral, classical, jazz, musical theatre, opera, pop, reggae, rock and world international.

"I think that these are probably tastes that are familiar to most of us as being to a degree class-based in nature," said Veenstra, adding that gender, ethnicity and age also play a role in what kind of music people tend to like.

But if someone grows up poor and ends up making millions that may not change the kind of music he or she chooses to listen to.

A lot of your tastes can be influenced by what you grew up listening to, says Veenstra.

"The music that you came to like during the formative time in your life ... shaped what you like then, and probably persists to you living in the current."

When asked if he noticed a difference in the musical tastes of Torontonians and Vancouverites he said people in Toronto were more opinionated. They tended to like rap, opera and heavy metal and particularly disliked classical, pop, easy listening and rock relative to Vancouverites.

To hear the full interview with UBC professor Gerry Veenstra listen to the audio labelled Musical preferences shaped by class