The Effects of Songs with Violent Lyrics

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The Effects of Songs with Violent Lyrics

By | December 2005
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One of the most widespread controversial topics currently is violence in the media and how it affects those who experience it. Mostly the focus is on movies, television, and video games; however music is becoming an area of interest. Many people are concerned with the potential harmful effects of listening to songs with violent lyrics.

Scientific research spanning four decades supports the hypothesis that exposure to violent media is casually related to subsequent expression of aggression in both short and long term time frames. The majority of this research however focused on violent television and movies. The American Psychological Association designed several experiments examining the effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and hostile feelings.

One experiment's hypothesis was that the violent song would produce higher levels of hostility than the non-violent song. The experiment used a 2 song*2 sex*2 participant pool factorial design. Twenty-nine female students and thirty male students participated in the experiment. Members of a psychology class recruited half of the group; the other half of the group was volunteers for the study. In this experiment the first song had to have clearly violent content, the second song had to have either minimal or no violent content. For control both songs had to be from the same artist, have the same time span, be understandable, and come from the same genre. Participants listened to the assigned song, completed the State Hostility Scale, and completed a longer unrelated task. The State Hostility Scale contains thirty-five sentences describing current feelings. Respondents rate each sentence on a five point scale; 1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither agree nor disagree, 4=agree, 5=strongly agree. As predicted the violent song produced higher levels of state hostility than did the non-violent song. The results of this experiment indicated that the violent content of songs can increase feelings...
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