Re: poly: Why Oldies Stations?

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Thu Apr 02 1998 - 17:27:38 PST

Robin Hanson, <>, writes:
> In the 30 Mar '98 New Yorker, Robert Sapolsky has a
> thought-provoking article:
> "Open Season, when do we lose our taste for the new?"
> [...]
> "Most people are twenty years old or younger when they
> first hear the popular music they choose to listen to for
> the rest of their lives. ... The typical non-asian midwestern
> sushi patron had been less than twenty-eight years old when sushi
> first arrived in town ... the average tounge-stud wearer
> was eighteen or younger when that ... arrived on the scene."

I'm sure we have all observed examples of this. It does seem that
many of people's attitudes become fixed in their youth.

> Here are some theories to explain this pattern:
> 1) Only young people have the time to explore new ways of doing things.
> Older folks are too busy to reconsider these choices.
> 2) The main function of these behaviors is to bond with and identify
> with a cohort. They are flags of allegiance.
> 3) People invest in integrating this stuff into their lives, and so
> choices get entrenched. For example, one may learn that in a
> certain mood one likes a certain musician. Or one's clothing
> wardrobe may be coordinated with one's makeup style.

As a variant of (2), there are social pressures to stabilize your
preferences as you become older. An older person who changes careers or
musical tastes is considered something of an oddball (present company
excepted). People shake their heads when a friend goes through a
"mid life crisis", a matter of considering significant changes.
The middle-aged guy who tries to dress like a teenager is a joke.

Another possible theory is biological. Young people are said to have
an easier time learning new things. Their brains are more flexible and
change more easily. Adult brains become increasingly rigid with age
and find it harder to accept change. You can't teach an old dog new
tricks. I'm sure someone could invent vaguely plausible evolutionary
reasons why brains might be like this.

Of course there are exceptions, people whose continue to accept and enjoy
new things without favoring whatever was around when they were young.
Do people like this have any other distinguishing traits?

Received on Fri Apr 3 01:32:39 1998

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