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Medical Study shows: listening to the Beatles actually makes you younger!

  1. May 31, 2012 #1


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    Thought you might get a kick out of this. Turns out that listening to the Beatles "When I'm 64" actually makes you younger!

    I am something of a critic of published studies showing spurious correlations (i.e. ones which are actually meaningless). These are cited to justify medical procedures, self-treatment, recommendations and the like. Often these are broadcast as news by popular media. How bad can it be? After all, these studies are performed by professionals. And how can you determine which correlation is meaningless? These authors have investigated just that by performing their own study of an intentionally ridiculous idea. Using generally accepted methods, they report:


    "These two studies were conducted with real participants, employed legitimate statistical analyses, and are reported truthfully. Nevertheless, they seem to support hypotheses that are unlikely (Study 1) or necessarily false (Study 2).

    "In Study 1, we investigated whether listening to a children’s song [“Hot Potato,” performed by The Wiggles] induces an age contrast, making people feel older. ... An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) revealed the predicted effect: People felt older after listening to “Hot Potato” (adjusted M = 2.54 years) than after listening to the control song (adjusted M = 2.06 years), F(1, 27) = 5.06, p = .033.

    "Using the same method as in Study 1, we asked 20 University of Pennsylvania undergraduates to listen to either “When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles or “Kalimba” [same control song used in Study 1, this comes free with Windows 7]. ... We used father’s age to control for variation in baseline age across participants. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) revealed the predicted effect: According to their birth dates, people were nearly a year-and-a-half younger after listening to “When I’m Sixty-Four” (adjusted M = 20.1 years) rather than to “Kalimba” (adjusted M = 21.5 years), F(1, 17) = 4.92, p = .040."

    They then go on to explain how they were able to achieve this (and there are ways to prevent it, usually not used however). So next time you see a ridiculous study result, or even one that seems reasonable on the surface, consider this article. Alternately, you may want to start listening to more Beatles.


    PS thanks to Cthugha for the reference.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2012 #2


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    I wouldn't consider a psychology study with p = 0.033 or p = 0.040 significant.. it's an indication that there could be an underlying effect that should be studied further, for instance with an independent cohort (unfortunately borderline data is often presented as groundbreaking).

    Did they correct their p-values in any way?
  4. Jun 1, 2012 #3
    For Study #2, they should have taken a random sample of all American adults & seniors, not just UofPA undergraduates.
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