No surprises here. A study conducted by a Princeton professor found that the art, music, and perhaps every aspect of culture that people claim to like are based more off others' opinions and not inherent value. So take a piece like Andy Warhol's iconic Marilyn diptych. Chances are, you only like the colorful silkscreens because your friends or society tells you it's a likable work of art. Just like in high school, peer pressure rules everything around us.

Matthew Sagalnik, who is a professor of sociology at Princeton University, found that what makes internationally known artwork stand out from that of all the other aspiring artists out there deals more with chance than anything. Sagalnick conducted an experiment, creating nine different "worlds" of influence on the Internet. He then asked 30,000 teenagers to evaluate music by obscure, unsigned artists. After 48 songs, they could then pick and download their favorite ones.

In one world, the participants could not see what others were downloading, so the songs they downloaded were totally independent of others' opinions. In the other worlds, however, the teenagers could in fact see what everyone else was downloading.

From what Sagalnik observed, every scenario began the same way. At first, the download count sits at 0. Then as people start picking their songs to download, others follow.

"For example, we had this song 'Lock Down' by the band 52 Metro," Salganik told NPR. "In one world this song came in first, in another world it came in 40th out of 48th. And this was exactly the same song. It's just in these different worlds, history evolved slightly different. There were differences in the beginnings and then the process of social influence and cumulative advantage sort of magnified those small random initial differences."

While you can certainly make many arguments for why Andy Warhol's pieces are works of art (he is the king of pop art, after all), it's easy to see how social influences play into our cultural tastes, too.

[via FastCo]