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psychology and music violence

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The Effects of Violent Music Content on Teenagers

Throughout history the human populous has been

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attracted to music. Whether it be part of a ritual, an

emotional release, religious reasons, or just for

listening pleasure music has been at the center of our

society. We have used music to express ourselves, tell

stories, and let others into our thoughts. However, we

often wonder whether what we are saying has an effect on

Recently, in the 1990’s references have often been

made to link violent and deviant behavior to music and

certain music genres. Some such genres include but are

not limited to; heavy metal, rock, death metal, rap,

gansta rap, industrial, hardcore, and alternative music.

During the last decade we have seen music lyrics become

more and more violent and sexually explicit. Experts

argue that this can cause problems in children and

adolescents. Studies show that the average teenager

listens to approximately 40 hours of music in a given

week. One is to assume that somewhere in the mix a child

is going to hear something derogatory or objectionable, as

it has become the norm in todays society.

In most music

today especially rap and heavy metal most of the lyrics

contain references to violence, sex, and/or drugs. While

many argue that this is dangerous for children to hear we

know that a modern day teenager often faces violence,

drugs, suicide, pregnancy, and other aspects of this

While we find that lyrics may be dangerous to a child

we must ask ourselves whether the child fully understands

and comprehends what the artist is saying. Teenagers

often do not understand what is being said, in fact in one

study only 30 percent of those questioned knew the lyrics

to their favorite songs and they all had varied

comprehension as to what the message was. It could be

argued that if the lyrics were not included in the artists

booklet then the audience would never know what was being

said. Some lyrics are indeed harsh such as this Nine Inch

“I am a big man yes I am; and I have a big gun; got

me a big ole *censored* and I like to have fun; held against

your forehead I’ll make you suck; you know, just for

Obviously we cannot interpret this as a positive meaning.

A sampling of lyrics from Marilyn Manson include “Who says

date rape isn’t fun,” “…the housewife I will beat..,”

and “I slit my teenage wrist,” among others. Manson

concerts are often grounds to bash religion and rip bibles

while fan chant “we hate love, we love hate.” Other songs

that have overtones of violence include “slap-a-ho” by

Dove Shack and another song sung by death metal band

Cannibal Corpse in which they make reference to

masturbating with a dead womans head. Avid music lovers

attest that they words sung in these songs are just words

and or no different that poetry printed in literature

books. No studies to date have concluded that listening

to a song that speaks of death will make a teenager want

Do these kinds of lyrics breed todays children to be

killers and to be sexually promiscuous? Yes, and no,

depending on who you speak to. Listening to music does

not drive people to kill, and no proof of such has been

offered. In fact, one teacher speaks of a student who

wore a Metallica shirt everyday to school and wrote lyrics

with foul language, but was often seen sitting in the

front row at Sunday mass with his mother in a nice suit.

The same people who go out to see Black Sabbath and Motley

Crue are the same people who handle world finance and

international affairs, it is just their choice in music.

Studies that use music videos on the other hand show

an increased tolerance in deviant behavior among both

males and females. Music videos add reinforcement to what

is being heard with the use of visuals. Now an extra

sense is being used. Videos often exhibit sexual

innuendo, acts of aggression, and gender stereotypes.

Studies showed that men have a tolerable attitude as to

what is violent and what is “too far” in sexual advances.

Women have less of a tolerance. Studies have also found

that heavy metal music and gansta rap influence mens

attitudes towards women and that increased exposure to

videos containing interpersonal violence against women

tended to increase men’s acceptance of rape myths such as

“she was dressing like she wanted it” or “she brought it

on herself.” In contrast, women’s beliefs decreased and

they felt that men were coming on too strong and being to

Another study conducted on college campuses in the

northwestern United States involved men and women watching

various music videos and then answering a set of questions

afterwards. One video was “The Way You Make Me Feel” by

Michael Jackson which depicts a man stalking a woman who

then becomes infatuated in his game of pursuit. The other

was “The Stand” by REM which only showed the band on-stage

playing instruments. In questions answered after the

videos men said it was necessary to pursue the woman to

such an extent while women thought it was annoying and/or

disturbing. Men scored higher on a attitudes for sexual

overtones, while surprisingly women scored slightly higher

on the acceptance of interpersonal violence. The studies

did conclude that women who were often subjected to

violent music videos were more accepting of violence than

those who have not had constant viewing or listening to

such lyrics and images. It also showed that men had a

greater acceptance of sexual stereotyping and rape myths

after being subjected to the videos.

Many methods of behavior modification have been

suggested in order to keep this music from causing harm or

hurting anyone individuals. Many arguments can be made as

to whether the music should be censored or if it is

unconstitutional to do. The American Academy of

Pediatrics recommends different types of behavior

modification to combat the harmful effects of this music.

One such idea is as simple as having parents be aware as

to what their children are listening to, and to discuss

anything they deem objectionable. This would be a

positive way to relate emotions to the songs. Another

idea proposed is labeling of content in compact discs. It

would be labeled outside as to what the lyrics contained

(i.e. language, sex, drugs). It has also been suggested

that groups as well as individuals approach record

companies, music studies, and artists and ask them to

consider the ramifications of their music on their

audience and market it accordingly and in a favorable

manner. Ideas have been proposed to set up research

studies to further investigate the effects of explicit

music on the behavior of teenagers. One of the most

effective ideas proposed is as simple as people accept

that this music is an art form and a means of self-

expression and emotional release and treat it as such.

Just as with rock and roll and Elvis Presley people will

always find something wrong with the music that others

Cite this psychology and music violence

psychology and music violence. (2018, Jun 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/psychology-and-music-violence-essay/

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