This Is What Happens to People Who Listen to Too Much AC/DC…

They grow up to write economics papers like this one, which looks at whether participants in lab experiments get closer to efficient outcomes when exposed to one lead singer of the rock band AC/DC versus another.

I hope for this guy’s sake he has tenure.

(Hat tip to Joshua Gans.)

ils vont

Wow what a ridiculous study, I would rather see a study about how many people think AC DC sucks. My hand is in the air.


How does he know efficiency wasn't due to the song instead of the screecher/vocalist? What about a control? How efficient are responses when they aren't hearing what can only be described as a banshee going through a sex change operation without the benefit of anesthesia.


The respondents to the survey were Canadians. I wonder if the results would be different in America. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Someone should do an entire analysis of every top 10 band in each genre from 30 countries and see where interests lie.

I may have overstepped some boundaries there.

jerry richardson

I thought this was going to be about Richard Ramirez, noted AC/DC fan, also known as the "Night Stalker".


The university undergraduate must be the most researched organism on the planet. Why do researchers constantly go straight to undergraduates? I'm sure you can just as easily find 18 campus janitors and facilities people to study.

But personally, I wonder if ultimatum game studies miss an important aspect: satisfying your outrage might be worth 3 dollars, but not 300,000 dollars. With chump change you're probably more focused on the ratio than the absolute gain.

I also wonder what the guy who's MAO of 0 was up to. Maybe he was an American who correctly caculated Candian currency to be worthless? ;)

Clearly the music of Brian Johnson has an adverse affect on undergraduates willingness to uphold theory. Or perhaps AC-DC has a adverse affect on PhDs' Excel abilities?

I daresay, your discovery has dire predictions for his forthcoming paper "The Effects of Recommended Play on Compliance with Ambient Pollution Instruments," with John Spraggon, forthcoming in Experimental Methods in Environmental Economics, T. Cherry, S. Kroll and J. Shogren (eds.), New York: Routledge. I doubt I'll be able to count the references to "Freebird" on one hand.

Clearly the more interesting aspect is why academia feels the need to conceal what exactly their papers are about.



my favorite part...

Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organizational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations (or setting up environments in which other parties will negotiate) and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band's Brian Johnson era discography.

R Rockwell

Who is more foolish: the Associate Professor who conducts the spurious research or the department and university that funds it?


Not the first person to try something like this:


You guys are WAY up on your high horse, but I think this is a joke.

I once took an English class in which most of my peers thought A Modest Proposal was a historical truth from a darker time. They also had no sense of humor.


Great paper! Very funny and a good joke.


This is not much dumber than Levitt's research.

Ike Pigott

Guys, this is really easy.

The Bon Scott song is "It's a Long Way to the Top," which thematically indicates an investment strategy of long-term, shorter gains.

The Brian Johnson song, "Shoot to Thrill," thematically evokes a mindset of instant gratification, and one under a constant barrage of that message would be more likely to let it all hang out.

A fairer comparison of similar note would be between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, as Hagar performed four Roth-era Van Halen tunes ("Panama" and "Jump" from 1984, and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" and "You Really Got Me" from the eponymous "Van Halen" album) on the band's 1993 live album.

Sometimes, you guys make this too easy.


This probably took about 10 minutes to do and cost very little. At least I'd hope so.

Rob Oxoby

I was curious why I was getting email about this paper. To ease everyone's concerns, yes the paper is a joke. The paper was written using old data from a grad student studying the effects of different genres of music on behavior (following previous research identifying the effect of different genres on heart rate, etc.; her original interest was on the use of music in behavior therapy). She abandoned the project and has since disappeared from her program. The AC/DC spin was due to a mistake in the protocols: different songs were played in two sessions. As far as I know the grad student paid for the experiments. I wrote this piece while delayed in the Vancouver airport.

Costs to Canadian taxpayers, zero. Making the Freakonomics blog... priceless.

For the record, I'm not really an AC/DC fan. Thanks for the concern Dr. Levitt. I have tenure. And don't worry, this isn't my regular line of research.

Rob Oxoby



How about this paper published in JPE (can't remember who the current editor is :) )

Those of you who are all hung up about the AC/DC paper should chill out. Nothing wrong with an academic doing something for fun. As long as it's not the only thing they do.

(Sheesh, much of the research that found its way into Freakonomics is on fluffy topics.)


This paper is hilarious, even if it serves no purpose in economics.


Oxoby (#14) has the last laugh, if he gets some citations out of this blog entry.


I can't believe nobody's brought up Doug Zongker yet. Here he presents his ground-breaking paper:

Entirely safe for work.


I hope you have tenure Josh. Your banal musings aren't half as interesting as Mr. Oxby's paper.


My guess is Bon Scott.