Researching Music

 Dangerous lyrics



1st March
2009
  

Professor of the Bleedin' Obvious...

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Youngsters who like sex also like pop music
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University of Pittsburgh logoTeens who prefer pop songs with degrading sexual references are more likely to engage in intercourse or in pre-coital activities, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Brian A. Primack of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says the study demonstrates that, among this sample of young adolescents, high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behavior. In fact, exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex was one of the strongest associations with sexual activity.

Surveys were completed by 711 ninth-grade students at three large U.S. urban high schools. The participants were exposed to more than 14 hours each week of lyrics describing degrading sex. About one-third said they had previously been sexually active.

The study, scheduled to be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, says those with the most exposure to the lyrics describing degrading sex were more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse, compared to those with the least exposure.

The relationship between exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex and sexual experience held equally for both young men and women.

 

23rd February
2008
  

Update: Rappers Make More Sense than Researchers...

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Listening to rap makes people sexist
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Eminem album Listening to rap music brings out the inner sexist in us, researchers claim. Both men and women become more misogynistic after playing the music, even when the lyrics are not explicitly offensive. Some experts believe the songs trigger chauvinistic attitudes hidden deep within our psyche, instead of directly causing such beliefs.

Researchers randomly divided more than 200 students into three groups to measure how sexist they were.

In the control group, students did not listen to any music but their levels of sexism were measured through a questionnaire.

The second group listened to Sabotage by the Beastie Boys - a rap with non-sexist lyrics.

The final group heard Kill You by Eminem, which has a similar rhythm, but is sexually explicit and describes violence towards women. Lyrics include: Bitch i'ma kill you! You don't wanna fuck with me, girls neither - you ain't nothing but a slut to me.

Researchers found the students who listened to rap music displayed "significantly higher" levels of sexism in their answers to the questionnaire.

This increased even after exposure to the rap with non-sexist lyrics.

Dr Michael Cobb, of North Carolina State University which carried out the study, said: It's like hearing the word 'chocolate' and suddenly having a craving for a candy bar. Sexism is imbedded in the culture we live in, and hearing rap music can spontaneously activate pre-existing awareness of sexist beliefs.

He found men who listened to any type of rap music were more sexist than the control group. Women also reported higher levels of sexism when rap music was not overtly misogynistic. However, their support of sexist beliefs lowered after listening to rap with overtly offensive lyrics.

 

5th May
2004
  

The Sound and the Fury...

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Correlating violent lyrics with violent action
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Never Mind the Bollocks CD cover Parents once worried that Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols were forces for sex, violence and anarchy. Now the claim that "modern music" is bad for the health of the listener, the concert-goer and society in general is being given an academic twist by researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas department of human services.

They say it is not only the sound and fury of performance, on stage or in videos, that matter. The words are just as important.

Researchers argue that their experiments, involving 500 students in different tests, demonstrate that songs with violent lyrics increase aggressive thoughts rather than act as a safety valve.

"In sum, listening to angry, violent music does not appear to provide the cathartic release that the general public and some professional and pop psychologists believe," they say in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the journal of the American Psychological Association.

Repeated exposure to violent lyrics may contribute to the development of an aggressive personality "as is true for longterm TV violence", they conclude.

They played 15 songs with what one group of the stu dents regarded as violent or non-violent lyrics, including humorous songs, sometimes by the same band, before running a series of tests.

Bands included hard rock outfit Tool, punks Suicidal Tendencies, the punk to hip-hop Beastie Boys and rappers Run DMC. The tests included asking participants to classify words such as "rock" and "stick" that could have both aggressive and non-aggressive meanings.

The experiments showed violent songs led to more violent interpretation of ambiguously aggressive words; increased the relative speed at which people read aggressive as against non-aggressive words and increased the proportion of word fragments, such as h-t, that were filled in to make aggressive words such as hit.

The increased feelings of hostility were not down to differences in musical style, performing artist or "arousal properties" of the song. Even the humorous violent songs increased aggressive thoughts.

There could be implications for "real world" violence, provoking friends, family, peers and teachers, to respond "negatively" to an individual's aggressive attitudes.

The researchers admit that the effects of violent songs may last only as long as it takes to listen to the next non-violent ones. Some violent songs have lyrics that are undecipherable.

'Violent' lyrics

Tool - Jerk-Off (1993)

If consequences dictate my course of action I should play God and shoot you myself/I'm very tired of waiting/I should kick you, beat you, fuck you, and then shoot you in your fucking head

Suicidal Tendencies - I wouldn't mind (1994)

I wouldn't mind seeing you shaken with fear/ I wouldn't mind seeing you screamin' in pain/ I wouldn't mind seeing you dead/ I wouldn't mind I wouldn't mind/ I wouldn't mind blood squirting from your veins/I wouldn't mind hearing you beg for your life/ I wouldn't mind hearing you beg for your life/I wouldn't mind I wouldn't mind seeing you dead

'Non-violent' lyrics

Suicidal Tendencies - Love vs Loneliness (1994)

And when you're down and you think you need something/ The temptation's so hard to resist/ But what you grab sure ain't what you needed/ That's not love it's loneliness/ And when you are lonely and think you need someone/ The plot a painful twist/ There ain't no one that can make you feel like someone/ Only you can cure loneliness

Beastie Boys - Live at PJ's (1992)

I'm gonna bust my shoes I'm gonna bust my socks/ I'm gonna spread my word from standing on this box/ This drive-through world it just ain't right/ Gonna run to Joe and Tony's and get my hair cut nice

 

5th May
2003
  

The Sound and the Fury...

Correlating violent lyrics with violent action
Link Here

Never Mind the Bollocks CD cover Parents once worried that Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols were forces for sex, violence and anarchy. Now the claim that "modern music" is bad for the health of the listener, the concert-goer and society in general is being given an academic twist by researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas department of human services.

They say it is not only the sound and fury of performance, on stage or in videos, that matter. The words are just as important.

Researchers argue that their experiments, involving 500 students in different tests, demonstrate that songs with violent lyrics increase aggressive thoughts rather than act as a safety valve.

"In sum, listening to angry, violent music does not appear to provide the cathartic release that the general public and some professional and pop psychologists believe," they say in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the journal of the American Psychological Association.

Repeated exposure to violent lyrics may contribute to the development of an aggressive personality "as is true for longterm TV violence", they conclude.

They played 15 songs with what one group of the stu dents regarded as violent or non-violent lyrics, including humorous songs, sometimes by the same band, before running a series of tests.

Bands included hard rock outfit Tool, punks Suicidal Tendencies, the punk to hip-hop Beastie Boys and rappers Run DMC. The tests included asking participants to classify words such as "rock" and "stick" that could have both aggressive and non-aggressive meanings.

The experiments showed violent songs led to more violent interpretation of ambiguously aggressive words; increased the relative speed at which people read aggressive as against non-aggressive words and increased the proportion of word fragments, such as h-t, that were filled in to make aggressive words such as hit.

The increased feelings of hostility were not down to differences in musical style, performing artist or "arousal properties" of the song. Even the humorous violent songs increased aggressive thoughts.

There could be implications for "real world" violence, provoking friends, family, peers and teachers, to respond "negatively" to an individual's aggressive attitudes.

The researchers admit that the effects of violent songs may last only as long as it takes to listen to the next non-violent ones. Some violent songs have lyrics that are undecipherable.

'Violent' lyrics

Tool - Jerk-Off (1993)

If consequences dictate my course of action I should play God and shoot you myself/I'm very tired of waiting/I should kick you, beat you, fuck you, and then shoot you in your fucking head

Suicidal Tendencies - I wouldn't mind (1994)

I wouldn't mind seeing you shaken with fear/ I wouldn't mind seeing you screamin' in pain/ I wouldn't mind seeing you dead/ I wouldn't mind I wouldn't mind/ I wouldn't mind blood squirting from your veins/I wouldn't mind hearing you beg for your life/ I wouldn't mind hearing you beg for your life/I wouldn't mind I wouldn't mind seeing you dead

'Non-violent' lyrics

Suicidal Tendencies - Love vs Loneliness (1994)

And when you're down and you think you need something/ The temptation's so hard to resist/ But what you grab sure ain't what you needed/ That's not love it's loneliness/ And when you are lonely and think you need someone/ The plot a painful twist/ There ain't no one that can make you feel like someone/ Only you can cure loneliness

Beastie Boys - Live at PJ's (1992)

I'm gonna bust my shoes I'm gonna bust my socks/ I'm gonna spread my word from standing on this box/ This drive-through world it just ain't right/ Gonna run to Joe and Tony's and get my hair cut nice