Psychologists: Heavy Metal Listeners Experience Increased Feelings Of Hostility And Aggression

The following article was originally published in today's edition of the New York Post:

Tipper Gore was right — nasty music can mess with a kid's head.

So say psychologists who studied the effect that violent lyrics can have on thoughts and feelings.

Male and female college students who listened to "Jerk-Off" by TOOL, CYPRESS HILL's "Shoot 'Em Up" and other angry tunes were more likely to report feelings of hostility and aggression than after listening to more benign songs by the same artists.

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Even humorous violent songs, like Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue", increased the hostility level, making the students more likely to interpret ambiguous words like "stick" aggressively.

In short, the study, published in the May issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, contradicts the popular "catharsis" theory that violent music helps listeners vent their own aggressive feelings.

"Content matters," the study's lead researcher, Iowa State professor Craig A. Anderson, told The Post.

"A heavy diet of other types of media violence is clearly linked to increased aggressive behavior over time."

Anderson, a 50-year-old father of two who calls himself a "heavy-metal fan," says he was particularly unsettled by lyrics like, "Maybe I should just shoot you myself."

"I mean, what kind of message is that?" he asks.

One saving grace: Researchers noted that some lyrics — especially in heavy metal — were nearly incomprehensible.

Reached for comment about this latest study, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America said, "We agree that parents should be educated so they can make their own determinations about what media content is appropriate for their children.

"More than 75 percent of parents are satisfied with our current security."


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