Richard Wiseman’s Quirkology is jam-packed with brief summaries of strange and interesting psychological research. We’re talking about things like whether or not watching religious programming affects people’s senses of humor, how walking speed is related to the pace of life in various cities, and, my favorite, whether regular exposure to country music increases the rate of suicide.
To find out, the researchers looked at the suicide rate and the amount of country music played on national radio in forty-nine areas across the United States. After controlling for several other factors, such as poverty, divorce, and gun ownership, the researchers did find that the more country music played on the radio, the higher the suicide rate. [page 145]
I knew that crap was bad for you.
Now, I tried to read the original article (“The effect of country music on suicide”, by Stack and Gundlach, Social Forces, volume 71, issues 1, pages 211-128, September 1992) and pick it to shreds, but it was written in statistics-ian. And I could only understand about every third word. So I’ll just have to Wiseman’s word that everything about the study is kosher.