Topics: Heavy metal music, Funk, Nu metal Pages: 5 (3202 words) Published: October 31, 2014


The purpose of the present research was to examine the effect of heavy metal music on levels of aggression in college students. A 30-item questionnaire was created by the researchers. The questionnaire measured aggression by means of a self-reported scale of levels of aggression in response to potentially aggressive situations. Two groups of college students, 28 females and 4 males aged 17-20 were given the questionnaire. One group answered while listening to heavy metal music, the other group did not listen to any music. Findings indicated that there was no relationship between aggressive music and aggression in college students. Limitations and implications of the research are discussed.

Effects of Heavy Metal Music on Aggression in College Students Heavy metal music has been a source of criticism ever since its` birth in the late nineteen eighties. Its` controversial lyrics and harsh sound have made it the target of much blame for psychological and behavioral problems in teenagers. Heavy metal music has also been a source of perpetual worry for parents whose children listen to the music. At the same time, the listeners and fans of heavy metal say that the music helps them deal with their problems. In the wake of several school shootings in which the teenagers accused of the aggression have been found to be fans of heavy metal, much attention has been directed to the effects of the music on its listeners. This topic is of much importance in directly relating heavy metal music to aggression of any kind. A number of studies have been conducted on this topic, some of which include focuses such as, people`s response to music in general, aggression and music, the processing of heavy metal lyrics, heavy metal and its effect on mood, and response to violence in the environment. Music and its effects on mood are experienced everyday by millions of people. In Radcoy and Boyle (1997), physiological and mood responses to different types of music were studied. It was determined that music could possibly elicit any variety of feelings in its listeners: happiness, sadness, relaxation, frustration, and even aggression. These feelings are without question, conjured up from the individual`s previous experience with the music, or the lyrics presented in the music. Therefore an individual`s response to music is not just a product of the music itself, but of associations with the music. According to Radcoy and Boyle (1997), there is no question that songs with themes such as social reform, religion or even love mean something to its` listeners, therefore eliciting an affective response. Heavy metal music causing aggression then is not implausible according to Radcoy and Boyle (1997). The aggression may have been present in the individual before the music was introduced, causing the aggression to be amplified by the music. But also, an individual free of aggressive feelings beforehand may feel aggression after listening to the music or examining the songs` lyrics. Either way, the meaning extracted from the lyrics and the emotional responses elicited from the music are definitely subjective. As stated above music is believed to have psychological effects, but there is little definitive documentation on the subject. In one such study, Greenberg and Fisher (1971) found that subjects exposed to exciting music scored higher on power and hostility themes on the thematic apperception test (TAT). Although we do know that music can cause aggression or other feelings, it remains unclear what kind of music actually elicits these feelings or responses in certain people. (Fried and Berkowitz, 1979) A study conducted by Wanamaker and Reznikoff (1989) found that aggressive rock music and lyrics had no affect on TAT scores or on a separate...

References: Ballard, M., & Coates, S. (1995). The immediate effects of homicidal, suicidal, and nonviolent heavy metal and rap songs on the moods of college students. Youth and Society, 27, 148-168.
Fried, R., & Berkowitz, L. (1979). Music both charms…and can influence helpfulness. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 913, 199-208.
Greenberg, R. P., Fisher, S. (1971). Some different effects of music on projective and structured psychological tests. Psychological Reports, 28, 817-818.
Hansen, C. H., & Hansen R.D. (1990). Schematic information processing of heavy metal lyrics. Communication Research, 374-408.
Radcoy, R., & Boyle, J. (1997). Psychological Foundations of Musical Behavior (3rd ed.). Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.
Wanamaker, L., & Reznikoff, M. (1989). Effects of aggressive and nonaggressive rock songs on projective and structured tests. The Journal of Psychology, 123, 561-570.
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