‘Nature or Nurture’ Study Reveals ‘Musical Genes’

November 12, 2009

LONDON, November 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ –

– A Love of Pop and Classical Music is Partly in our Genes

If you’ve ever wondered why a close group of friends might like
completely different types of music, blame their genes. A study by Nokia
(NYSE: NOK) into the musical tastes of nearly 4,000 twins reveals genetic
influences on the music people like varies with genre.

While, on the whole, musical taste is determined just as much by nature
as it is by specific individual experiences, nature’s influence is strongest
on appreciation of pop, classical and hip-hop music – indicating some people
may be born to love Michael Jackson, Beethoven or Jay-Z.

    Nature's influence is lowest on appreciation of folk and country, where
family upbringing appears to play a role - so a CD collection full of Hank
Williams, Dolly Parton and Joni Mitchell can't necessarily be blamed on

    Genre                        Nature's Influence
    Pop/classical/rap/hip-hop                   53%
    Jazz/blues/soul                             46%
    Rock/indie/heavy metal                      40%
    Country/folk                                24%

The study, conducted by Nokia and Kings’ College London Department of
Twin Research, investigated the listening habits of nearly 4,000 twins and
looked at the influence of both genetic and environmental factors on musical

“Previous studies have shown that perfect pitch ability appears to be
partly inherent and with as much as 50% of our musical taste being
predetermined, it appears there is a strong argument for the existence of
‘music genes’” says Adrian North, Professor of Psychology at Heriot Watt

As might be expected, genetic influences decrease over time as individual
experiences becomes more important. Excluding country music – on average for
the under 50s, genes have more influence (55%)(1) than environmental factors
(45%)(2) , whereas for the over 50s, the influence of individual specific
environmental factors on a music collection increases to 60%(3).

Liz Schimel from Nokia commented; “Mobile phones are changing the way
people experience music and, if we’re to give music fans the music they want,
we need to know what fuels their passions. While technology doesn’t yet allow
us to match DNA to playlists with Nokia Comes With Music service and millions
of tracks in the Nokia Music Store, there’s something for every gene.”

    Genetic influence ranking by genre for under and over 50s

    Under 50s
    - 56% Jazz/blues/soul
    - 55% Pop/classical/rap/hip-hop
    - 53% Rock/indie/heavy metal
    - 0% Country/folk

    Over 50s
    - 43% Pop/classical/rap/hip-hop
    - 42% Jazz/blues/soul
    - 34% Rock/indie/heavy metal
    - 28% Country/folk

Born to buy music, but not to listen to it

While genetic influence on the music we like (55%) is clear, genes have a
significantly lower influence (25%) on our motivations for listening to
music. According to the research, listening habits are influenced by a desire
to soundtrack our day, wanting to set a mood, or simply to enjoy the
listening experience rather than any ‘play music now’ gene.

A video including interviews is available at


ns Study_v3H480.mov

(Due to the length of this URL, it may be necessary to copy and paste
this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address field. Remove the
space if one exists.)

Notes to Editors

The research was conducted amongst identical (MZ) twins and fraternal
(DZ) twins. MZ twins share 100% the same genes, whereas DZ twins share half
the same genes, just like ordinary siblings. Assuming the shared environment
they grew up in is equally similar for MZ and DZ twins, it is possible to
conclude that any greater similarity in musical taste between identical twins
than non-identical twins is due to genetic influences.

About Nokia

Nokia is a pioneer in mobile telecommunications and the world’s leading
maker of mobile devices. Today, we are connecting people in new and different
ways – fusing advanced mobile technology with personalized services to enable
people to stay close to what matters to them. We also provide comprehensive
digital map information through NAVTEQ; and equipment, solutions and services
for communications networks through Nokia Siemens Networks.

    1. This figure is the mean of percentages for heritability in the under
       50s, for indie/rock music (53%), pop/classical (55%) and jazz/blues
    2. This figure is the mean of percentages for environmental influence in
       the under 50s, for indie/rock music (47%), pop/classical (45%) and
       jazz/blues (44%)
    3. This figure is the mean of percentages for environmental influence in
       the over 50s, for indie/rock music (66%), pop/classical (58%) and
       jazz/blues (58%)


SOURCE Nokia Corporation

Source: newswire

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