There are now initial scientific proofs that indeed, music and lyrics affect people’s feelings. A recently conducted research commissioned by the Texas Department of Human Services and the Iowa State University has concluded that songs with overt violent lyrics tend to increase aggression linked to emotions and thoughts of individuals. The study was first published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’s May 2009 issue. It was contradictory to common notions that listening to violent music with angry and harsh lyrics could facilitate ventilation of emotions and positive catharsis.
The research consisted of five actual experiments with at least 500 college students as respondents. Lyrics of songs were categorized into violent and non-violent. Seven songs with angry lyrics and seven songs with non-angry lyrics from the same artists were picked for the tests. Student-respondents were provided by different psychological tests for measurement of aggressive feelings and thoughts after hearing selected music with categorized song lyrics. There also was a task that had participants categorizing or classifying specific lyrics perceived to have aggressive and non-aggressive definitions.
Control of variables was facilitated through selecting songs with aggressive and non-aggressive lyrics that were sung by the same artists. Participants were even asked to interpret arousal properties of music. To make the research more interesting, several songs with obviously humorous lyrics were included in the list to demonstrate how humor is able to interact with aggressive song lyrics in provoking aggressive thoughts among listeners.
Results unanimously showed that violent songs with violent lyrics are leading to much more aggressive and violent interpretations as compared to songs with non-violent and non-aggressive lyrics. Violent song lyrics were found to bolster feelings of hostility among participants even without presence or mentioning of direct threat or provocation. This effect was obviously not brought about by variations in music styles. It was noted that even humorous songs with violent lyrics were able to boost aggressive thoughts among respondents.
An observant noted that violent lyrics in songs increase aggressiveness in feelings and thoughts. This, according to some experts, could have direct implications for actual violence in the real world. Some even noted that aggressive thoughts prompted by violent song lyrics could effectively influence perceptions especially of social interactions.
This study was able to probe possible precursors to aggression, a deviation from common notions that aggression is brought about by aggressive behavior itself. Song lyrics have that instant and immediate effect in thoughts and feelings of people. Authors recommend further studies into the subject, because there is still a need to identify and quantify long-term and short-term effects of aggressive and violent song lyrics.
Lastly, researchers concluded that indeed violent song lyrics could contribute well to the emergence of aggressive personalities among people, leading to indirect creation of more hostile social surroundings. In other words, when it comes to songs and music, content and lyrics do really matter, especially when composers and songwriters aim to arouse specific moods and behaviors among listeners of music. Thus, parents should always monitor the kind of music heard by their children.