Music and Its Effects on Behaviors in Teenagers and Young Adults

Last Updated: 10 Mar 2020
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Jorja M. Rea Professor Andre Yang English 1A 25 November 2012 Music and its effects on Behaviors in Teenagers and Young Adults Picture this: A young man is arrested for murder, twisting and cursing at the police as his mother watches from the sidewalk. It is light enough out that you can see, not far from him, lays the body of a young women. She was his girlfriend, whom he had beaten to death. This young man is just one of many young adults that are being arrested for committing vicious crimes in our society. Barongan and Nagayama Hall (1995) examined the effects of cognitive distortions in men had towards women.

The men in this study viewed women in a sexually aggressive way. The men’s behavior was observed in a laboratory setting. Twenty-seven men listened to misogynous rap music and 27 men listened to neutral rap music. Participants then viewed neutral, sexually-violent, and assaultive film vignettes and chose the vignette that they found appealing. The results showed that “participants who viewed the sexual-violent stimuli indeed felt sexually violent towards women, even having thoughts of raping and abusing women”.

That young man will spend the next 3 years of his teenage life in a jovial facility and then be relocated to prison once he turns 18. What happened that caused a young man with a 3. 0 GPA to go from good to bad? According to Ortiz (2004) it all has to do with the human brain. The human brain has been called the most complex mass in the known universe. This is a well-deserved reputation, for this organ contains billions of connections called neurons. Among its parts and governs countless actions, involuntary and voluntary, physical, mental and emotional. The largest part of the brain is the frontal lobe.

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A small area of the frontal lobe located behind the forehead, called the prefrontal cortex, controls the brain’s most advanced functions. This part often referred to as the “CEO” of the body, providing humans with advanced cognition. It allows us to prioritize thoughts, imagine, think in the abstract, anticipate consequences, plan, and control impulses. Along with everything else in the body, the brain changes significantly during adolescence. In the last five years, scientists, using new technologies, such as an MRI, have discovered that adolescent brain is far less developed han previously believed. Doctors of Harvard Medical School have studied the relation between these new findings and teen behavior and concluded that adolescents often rely on emotional parts of the brain, the Amygdala, rather than the frontal lobe, “one of the things that teenagers seem to do is to respond more strongly with gut response than they do with evaluating the consequences of what they’re doing. ” Since this young man, and many countless others in his position, lacks a complete prefrontal cortex they are forced to use the Amygdala.

Fight or Flight is all it tells us to do. Thus, without any clear knowledge these young people are forced to find role models who the feel “get them”. They turn to music for its lyrics and beat and this is where the trouble begins. Mahiri and Conner (2003) tested whether or not it is true that our African-American youth is more violent than other nationalities and why. Is it the rap music that they may listen to? The researchers assessed the perspective on violence of 41 middle school students attending a unique school in a low-income section of a large northern California city.

The researchers probed ways that these students interpreted or reflected upon rap music and hip-hop culture, particularly its representation of violence, crime, and sex. A brief questionnaire was handed out to each of these participants, which consisted of scenario questions (what would you do if…). Based on the responses to the questions researchers were able to come to the conclusion that these particular students were “unfortunately looking up to these negative role models”. The constant talk of female assault, sex, and violence was being imbedded into these children’s minds”. And it doesn’t end there. Many other researchers have examined the effects of how musical genres have increased tendencies towards violet behaviors in teenagers and young adults. These studies have helped to uncover whether or not violent and aggressive music and music lyrics have had in fact, increased the rate of individuals that lash out in a violent, aggressive manner.

Although none of the researchers in this paper considered the lack of the prefrontal cortex as a results as to why these young adults are so effects by the images they see or the music they listen to, they did however find something else altogether; these studies were done to inform society on how music is affecting people’s moods. For example: Anderson et al. (2003) studied whether or not media violence influences youth. They randomly assigned youths to watch either a short violent or a short nonviolent music video and then observed how they interacted with other people after viewing the music video.

After each participant watched the music video for approximately 15 minutes, both physical and verbal aggression towards others was assessed using a 10-point scale: with 1 showing nonviolent behaviors and 10 showing a lot of violent behaviors. A correlational analysis was used to see if there was a relationship between a participant watching the violent music video and acting violent, or watching the nonviolent music video and not acting violent. “The results showed that exposure to media violence had a statistically significant association with aggression and violence among youth”.

This research clearly demonstrates that exposure to media violence heightens the chances that a youth will behave aggressively and have aggressive thoughts in the short run. Arlin (1996) examined the “influence of exposure to violent rock videos on participants’ appraisals of their own aggressiveness”. Participants were preselected based on their scores on a measure of locus of control. After completing a measure of Buss and Durkee’s Hostility Inventory, they were randomly assigned to view either a view or nonviolent music video. After viewing the video, participants once again completed the Hostility Inventory.

The results revealed a main effect of locus of control, such that individuals with an external locus of control showed lower self-reported aggressiveness after viewing a music video than individuals with an internal locus of control. Johnson, Jackson and Gatto (1995) studied whether exposure to rap music could cause violent attitudes and delayed academic performance. Forty-six African-American males (ages 11 to 16 years) from an inner city boys club in Wilmington, North Carolina were recruited to participate in this study. Participants were randomly exposed to violent rap music videos, nonviolent rap music videos, or no music videos.

They read two vignettes involving: (a) a violent act perpetrated against a man and a woman and (b) a young man who chose to engage in academic pursuits to achieve success, whereas his friend, who was unemployed, “mysteriously” obtained extravagant items (i. e. , a nice car, nice clothes). The results showed that participants who saw the violent rap music videos reported greater acceptance of violence. In addition, “participants who saw the violent rap videos reported higher probability of committing similar acts of violence and greater acceptance of the use of violence against women”. St.

Lawrence and Joyner (1991) examined the effects of sexually violent rock videos on males’ acceptance or violence against women. The experimental manipulation involved exposure to sexually violent heavy-metal rock music, Christian heavy-metal rock music, or easy listening classical music. One month prior to the experimental manipulation, participants were administered several attitudinal scales about religious orientation, sex roles, rape myths, and interpersonal violence. The results indicated that “males without a religious background were more accepting of sexist and rape-supportive beliefs”.

The researchers also came across an unexpected finding which was greater self-reported sexual arousal in response to classical music. Kalof (1999) examined the effects of gender and music video imagery on sexual attitudes. A group of 44 U. S. college students were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups that viewed either a video portraying stereotyped sexual imagery or a video that excluded all sexual images. A two-way scale revealed that exposure to traditional sexual imagery had a significant main effect on attitudes about adversarial sexual relationships. There seems to be some confirmation of a relation between sex and exposure to conventional sexual imagery on the acceptance of interpersonal violence. ” Viemero and Paajanen (1992) examined whether or not viewing violent television actually does increase the aggressive behavior of those who viewed it. There were 391 eight-year old and ten-year old children participating in this study. “These children were tested on their aggression, their fear fantasies, and their dream and fantasies about these shows”. Two measurements of aggression were made: peer-nominated aggression and self-related aggression.

TV viewing habits were measured by the amount of TV viewed during the week. Violence was depicted by how regularly violent TV shows were watched. They found that there was significant positive correlation for boys between TV viewing variables and aggression. There was also a significant positive correlation between the amount of TV and televised violence viewing and fear and aggressive fantasies about actual shows that were seen by the children. “These children seem to have been strongly impacted by the violence seen on television shows they were watching, and then acting in a more aggressive way after watching the violence”.

Now that the It seems very obvious that there is a significant relationship between listening to violent music and watching aggressive/violent music videos and one getting into more fights, using inappropriate language, inappropriate gestures, and a tendency to think less of women. All of these researchers identified in this paper studied this exact relationship and found significant results. It is apparent that there is indeed a direct correlation between violent music and people’s aggressive behaviors.

An operational definition of violent behavior is physically and verbally hurrying others, cursing, stealing, inappropriate gestures and negative views of women. Whether it is the lyrics, the beat, or watching the entertainers act violently, people in general who are viewing these music videos are behaving in an inappropriate and destructive way. Listening to violent music has an effect on aggression. This information is useful for parents of young children who are growing up watching these music videos. The studies completed by the researches mentioned in this paper reveal a serious problem.

Our society as a whole should consider this a severe problem, especially with all of the school bombings, the high rates of angry- gang affiliated- weapon carrying young people, and the millions of dollars being spent on this violent and degrading (mostly to women) kind of music. When angry, violent, aggressive, vulgar videos were shown, participants portrayed a massive amount of hostility; their moods were changing as the video continued as did their behavior. They also answered the scenario questions with the most violent answer chose available.

The participants who viewed nonviolent videos showed amazingly different answers to the questions, the majority of them answering the questions with the nonviolent or calmer answer choses. This clearly shows evidence that allowing teenagers and young adults to watch violent music videos (like Eminem or DMX) has and will have a strong effect on violent tendencies like beating a women to death. It can also be said that the reason the results were significant in the violent groups is because of the extreme difference between the two videos.

The violent videos were extremely violent showing fighting, carjacking, yelling, cursing, and hitting women. Meanwhile, the nonviolent groups watched music videos that showed people dancing on the beach and having fun. The extreme differences between the two types of videos could be the reason for the significant results obtained by the researchers. It may be wise in the future research to use videos that are not so tremendously different. Bibliography Anderson, C. A, Berkowits, L. , Donnerstein, M. , Edward, K. , Huesmann, L. , Rowell, J. , Johnson, J. , Linz, D. , Malamuth, N. , & Wartella, H. 2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4, 81- 110. Arlin, B. , (1996). The influence of locus of control and aggressiveness of rock music on aggression. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 14, 491- 498. Barongan, C. , & Nagayama Hall, G. C. (1995). The influence of misogynous rap music on sexual aggression against women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 195-207. Mahiri, J. , & Conner, E. Black youth violence has a bad rap. Journal of Social Issues, 59, 121-140. Johnson, J. D, Jackson, L. A. , & Gatto, L (1995).

Violent attitudes and different academic aspirations: Deleterious effects of exposure to rap music. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 16 (1-2), 27-41. Kalof, L. (1999). The effects of gender and music video imagery on sexual attitudes. Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 378- 385. St. Lawrence, J. S. , & Joyner, D. J.. (1991). The effect of sexually violent rock music on males’ acceptance of violence against women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 49-63. Viemero, V. , & Paajanen, S. (1992). The role of fantasies and dreams in the TV viewing-aggression relationship. Journal of Social Psychology, 18, 109-116.

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Music and Its Effects on Behaviors in Teenagers and Young Adults. (2017, May 21). Retrieved from

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