Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Given the ever-growing popularity of music in daily life, it is of the utmost

importance to understand how it influences affect, cognition, and behavior, especially given the violence of certain genres of music. The present study was designed to investigate the relationship between music and behavior, specifically to examine how the lyrics and background music interact to influence affective hostility and aggressive behavior. Data were collected from a sample of 168 students (61% Female; MAge = 19.24, SD = 2.470) at a large, private, Midwestern university to investigate this relationship. The music was manipulated by randomly assigning the participant to listen to one of four versions of a song. These versions included the match of either antisocial or prosocial lyrics with heavy metal or calm background music. Although there was no significant main effect of the lyrical content on participant’s aggressive behavior as hypothesized, there was a significant main effect of the lyrical content on an individual’s level of affective hostility F(4,159) = 8.818, p < .001, η2 = .186. Specifically, pairwise comparisons showed antisocial lyrics resulted in a higher level of hostility as compared to the prosocial lyrics. This pattern suggests that music influences an individual’s affective hostility, but counter to previous research, music does not necessarily alter aggressive behavior. The relationship between music and aggression requires further investigation in order to determine whether music does in fact influence behavior, including potential moderators of this relationship.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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