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Listening to Rock Music and Racism

by Kathy Jones on March 8, 2012 at 11:03 PM
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 Listening to Rock Music and Racism

A new study says that listening to mainstream rock music may make people apathetic towards black people and latinos.

The researchers, who tested 138 students with different genres, asserted the finding indicates that because rock is associated with white people, people unconsciously favour their own race after listening.


Students were told that they were taking part in a study of how funds should be distributed in college and were offered a range of ethnic-based groups to share money between.

After listening to Bruce Springsteen and the White Stripes, the students distributed most of the money to white people.

"Rock music is generally associated with white Americans, so we believe it cues white listeners to think about their positive association with their own in-group," the Daily Mail quoted Heather LaMarre, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Minnesota as saying.

"That was enough for them to show more support for a student group representing mostly whites."

After listening to Top 40 pop such as Gwen Stefani, Akon and Fergie, the students handed out money more equally between white people, black people and latinos.

"Music has a lot of power to influence our thoughts and actions, more than we often recognize," said associate professor Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick.

"It has the power to reinforce our positive biases toward our own group, and sometimes negative biases toward others."

The effect was multiplied in students who listened to radical 'white power' groups like Prussian Blue, Skrewdriver and Bound for Glory.

"We saw very targeted, almost punitive take-aways from the African-American and Arab-American groups by those who listened to the radical white power rock," Knobloch-Westerwick said.

"Those who listened to the rock music gave more to the white group, but split the rest equally among the other three - in other words they weren't punitive against the others as were the listeners of the white power rock."

Participants sat for seven minutes while the music played in the background before they began what they thought was the 'real' part of the study, dividing money between different ethnic-based college groups.

When each participant arrived for the study, they were told to wait for the session to start.

They were made to wait in a waiting room with music playing softly in the background.

They were denied access to any other media, including music players, computers, phones or reading materials.

The participants were then called in and asked to give feedback about how their tuition money should be distributed to four student groups - called the Centres of African American Studies, Latino American Studies, Arab American Studies, and Rural and Agricultural Studies.

Findings revealed that those who listened to the Top 40 music split the funds nearly equally - about one-fourth of the money to each of the four groups.

Those who listened to the mainstream rock gave about 35 percent of the funds to the white-American group - and approximately equal amounts to the other three groups.

Those who listened to the radical white power rock gave the most of all the participants to the white-American group - nearly 40 percent.

They doled out around 25 percent to the Latino-American group, about 16 percent to the African-American group and about 15 percent to the Arab-American group.

"It shows that it is not just the lyrics that matter. Good, old-fashioned rock and roll - with no incendiary or hateful lyrics at all - was enough of a cue to increase the percentage of money allocated for the white-American group," Knobloch-Westerwick said.

"This appears to be the first study to show that music genre itself, not just the lyrics, has the potential to be a very powerful influence on people," Knobloch-Westerwick added.

Source: ANI

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