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Anthropology

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The Washington Post

By studying how people from different cultures respond to consonant and dissonant chords, MIT researchers have found that musical tastes may be rooted in cultural origins, not biology, writes Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post. The results “underscore the degree of variation that exists across cultures in terms of how people hear and evaluate music," explains Prof. Josh McDermott. 

The Atlantic

Atlantic reporter Ed Young writes about a study by MIT researchers that finds musical preferences may be cultural in origin. The researchers examined the musical preferences of remote Amazonian village and found they “don’t care about consonance or dissonance. They can tell the difference between the two kinds of sounds, but they rate both as being equally pleasant.”

Los Angeles Times

 A new study by MIT researchers finds that culture and not biology may be responsible for our musical tastes, writes Amina Khan for The Los Angeles Times. The researchers found that “people who haven’t been exposed to Western music don’t find certain ‘discordant’ sounds unpleasant at all,” suggesting that musical preferences are not innate.  

Inside Higher Ed

A new study co-authored by MIT Prof. Susan Silbey examines why female students leave the field of engineering. When the researchers analyzed "more than 40 engineering students’ twice-monthly diaries, they found that female students often felt marginalized during group activities,” Inside Higher Ed reports. 

Financial Times

Gill Plimmer of The Financial Times interviews Professor Graham Jones about how social media has influenced how people gossip. “English speakers are increasingly talking not just about what other people say and do, but about the thoughts and feelings behind their words,” writes Plimmer.