It might seem like clickbait, or remind you of the movie Minority Report, but the idea that your favorite playlist could signal certain behavioral abnormalities to authorities could happen. In some unpublished studies from New York University, they may have “identified a subset of songs that can be used to identify individuals with psychopathic traits.” Could people in the future will be subject to additional restrictions or observation before they actually commit a crime? Could your playlist mean more than just musical taste in the future?
Many news outlets ended up reporting on the findings even though they aren’t proven yet. Pascal Wallisch of NYU encouraged caution when it came to this research, maintaining that there has to be a lot more research on the subject to have a clear answer. The researchers intentionally left most of the material unavailable to the general public because they were concerned about the dangers of people drawing speculative conclusions or using the listed songs against their fans.
However, the preliminary available information states that psychopaths may be drawn to specific genres and/or beats and rhythms. The Guardian mentioned two songs that the research says supposedly correlated to psychopathic tendencies; Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
Pascal says, “The media portrays psychopaths as axe murderers and serial killers, but the reality is they are not obvious; they are not like The Joker in Batman. They might be working right next to you, and they blend in. They are like psychological dark matter.”
It also sounds like the two songs mentioned above are only two that they were willing to release to the general public. There are other songs that they claim offer even more connection to psychopaths, but they don’t want to compromise future studies by releasing too much information now.
On the other side of things, people with fewer psychopathic connections also might lean toward certain genres and styles. The New York Post claimed that if you like The Knack’s “My Sharona” or Sia’s “Titanium” you may have less psychopathic tendencies than those who don’t.
In the future, will someone’s playlist gives the authorities or government the right to keep an eye on someone? Just because you’re a fan of specific songs or genres, should you be put on a list of potential criminals? Will our playlists be questioned? Our radio stations? Could your album collection be what a lawyer refers to “exhibit A” in the courtroom?
For a lot of us, music is what defines who we are, what we love, and how we live our lives. If this study is completed and they do find out there is a direct connection to psychopaths or criminals or really, anything nefarious, your playlist could define you even further in an official context. Once our playlists are being watched, it could expand to the live shows that we go to as well. Or the television shows that we enjoy on Netflix. The fact that we fell asleep watching true crime movies could, one day, put us in the hot seat. What about the art and photography we enjoy? Will we have to eventually register the things that we hang on our walls?
It all sounds scary, but it is at least in the realm of possible thought. We’re already seeing it in books and movies like “Fahrenheit 451” and V for Vendetta. This study might just be the first step in splitting our society into three main subsections; those who will enjoy art no matter what list it puts them on, those who will change their habits to reflect “safe entertainment,” and those who will walk away from art entirely. Then again, maybe I’m just reading too far into it and have let my imagination go wild…