Why Some People Just Don't Get Music

Study finds that they receive zero enjoyment from listening

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 7, 2014 1:24 PM CST

(Newser) – Music lovers, or even music likers, will find it difficult to relate: A new study finds that some people get zero pleasure from music. The Barcelona researchers even came up with a name for the condition: "specific musical anhedonia." It's "specific" because these people derive enjoyment from other things, but music does nothing for them, reports NPR. This is not to be confused with something called "amusia," in which people can't make sense of musical tones. No, these people understand when a particular tune is supposed to be happy or sad, but they just don't feel it, notes the Verge.

This explains why, "while some of us find ourselves quietly crying in the middle of a Target when some dumb song comes on, other—also totally normal—people carry on tear free," writes Rose Eveleth at Smithsonian. The researchers measured the heart rates and skin conductance of study participants to show that nothing was going on inside despite the supposedly stirring music that was being played, they write in a press release. This and previous research suggests that about 5% of people fall into the category. If you're curious about your own "music responsiveness," the scientists have a quiz. (Click to read another study suggesting that, contrary to parents' hopes, music doesn't make kids smarter.)

Study finds that they receive zero enjoyment from listening
Study finds that they receive zero enjoyment from listening   (AP Photo/Charleston Daily Mail, Bob Wojcieszak)
  (Shutterstock)
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