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Unformatted text preview: vision (MTV). Barongan and Hall (1995) reported a study suggesting that antisocial lyrics
(without video) can affect behavior, but the assessed behavior was not clearly aggressive. In this
investigation, male college students listened to misogynous or neutral rap music, viewed three
vignettes (neutral, sexual and violent, assaultive), and then chose one of the three vignettes to be
shown to an unknown female (who was actually a member of the research team). Those who had
listened to the misogynous music were significantly more likely than those in the neutral-music
condition to select the assaultive vignette.
Several research groups have examined how music videos affect adolescents’ aggressive
thinking and attitudes. For example, J.D. Johnson, Adams, Ashburn, and Reed (1995) randomly
assigned African American adolescents to an experimental condition in which they viewed
nonviolent rap music videos containing sexually subordinate images of women or to a no-musicvideo control condition. When queried about their attitudes, the young women who saw the
demeaning videos indicated greater acceptance of teen dating violence than did comparable women
in the control condition. In related work with young African American men, J.D. Johnson, Jackson,
and Gatto (1995) found that exposure to violent rap music videos increased endorsement of violent
behavior in response to a hypothetical conflict situation. Peterson and Pfost (1989) found that
exposing males to nonerotic violent music videos led to a significant increase in adversarial sexual
beliefs and negative affect. Similarly, college students shown rock music videos with antisocial
themes reported a greater acceptance of antisocial behavior compared with the students in the
control group, who were not shown antisocial rock music videos (Hansen & Hansen, 1990). Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 32 Students were also more likely to accept stereotypic sex role behavior after being exposed to music
videos that displayed such behavior (Hansen, 1989; Hansen & Hansen, 1988).
Several experiments have examined the influence of violent songs without video on aggressionrelated variables. Some of these failed to obtain reliable effects of the lyric content (e.g., Ballard &
Coates, 1995; St. Lawrence & Joyner, 1991; Wanamaker & Reznikoff, 1989). For example,
participants in Ballard and Coates's investigation heard one of six songs varying in genre (rap vs.
heavy metal) and lyric content (homicidal, suicidal, neutral). Lyric content had no impact on
participants' rating of their mood, including anger. In most studies showing no effect, the genre of
the songs (heavy metal) made the lyrics nearly incomprehensible, a problem noted by the
researchers themselves. Other studies have reported mixed results. Wester, Crown, Quatman, and
Heesacker (1997) had male undergraduates listen to (a) sexually violent music and lyrics, (b) the
same music without lyrics, (c) sexually violent lyrics without music, or (d) no music or lyrics.
Analyses yielded no differences in negative attitudes toward women among the four groups.
However, participants exposed to violent lyrics viewed their relationships with women as more
adversarial than other participants did.
More recently, Anderson, Carnagey, and Eubanks (2003) reported a series of five experiments
on the effects of music lyrics. The experiments were designed to avoid the problems of
comprehensibility and music genre encountered in earlier work. Across studies, seven violent
songs by seven artists and eight nonviolent songs by seven artists were used to ensure that results
were not due to one or two specific songs, artists, or genres. These five experiments provided
consistent evidence that songs with violent lyrics increase aggression-related thoughts (r = .21) and
affect (r = .27).
We found no published cross-sectional studies of the effects of exposure to violent music
videos on aggressive behavior. However, Roberts, Christenson, and Gentile (2003) summarized the Media Violence 33 results of an unpublished study that found a positive correlation between amount of MTV watching
and physical fights among third- throughfifth-grade children. In addition, children who watched a
lot of MTV were rated by peers as more verbally aggressive, more relationally aggressive, and
more physically aggressive than other children. Teachers rated them as more relationally
aggressive, more physically aggressive, and less helpful.
Several studies suggest a connection between the kind of music youths listen to and whether
their behaviors and attitudes are maladaptive. Rubin, West, and Mitchell (2001) found that college
students who preferred rap and heavy metal music reported more hostile attitudes than students
who favored other genres of music. Heavy metal listeners held more negative attitudes toward
women, whereas rap music fans were more distrustful. Similarly, Took and Weiss (1994) found a
correlation between preference for rap and heavy metal music and below-average academic
performance, behavior problems in school, drug use, arrests, an...
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