Does Rap Music Lead to Agressive Behavior?

Personally, my favorite genre of music is rap/hip-hop. As a female, I will admit most of the music in the industry is offensive and degrading, but I look at rap/hip-hop as its culture, where its okay that the lyrics are explicit because overall the meaning behind it is more sophisticated. Although I love hip/hop and rap, most of its critics agree that the music is trash and sends messages to the youth of violence and aggressive, immoral behavior. This has led me to wonder how true this really is. Does rap/hip-hop music lead its listeners to violent behavior?

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In a study conducted by Western Connecticut State University, it was put to the test of whether or not young people listening to rap music causes violent behavior. Eleven participants watched a violent music video, eleven watched a non violent music video, while eleven didn’t watch any music videos, which acted as a control group. This “violent” music video contained aggressive behavior, degradation towards women, and had violent lyrics. It was found that those who watched the violent music video acted more violently afterwards when asked questions about hypothetical scenarios regarding women,families, and morals (Tropeano 2006).
Not only was violent behavior prevalent, but Kalof, a researcher from Western Connecticut State University examined the effects of gender and music video imagery on sexual attitudes. In this experiment, 44 U.S. college students were randomly assigned to one of two groups which either showed a video of stereotypical sexual imagery or a video with no sexual images. Those who watched the music video containing sexual imagery were more degrading of women afterwards, particularly in sexual situations (Tropeano 2006).
The influence of alcohol and drugs is also prominent through rap music and culture. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluations Prevention Research Center reported a study linking youth’s influence of drugs and alcohol as a result of rap/hip-hop music. Marketers within this study noticed that even alcohol brands released in popular rap songs show an increase in sales due to the influence the song plays on society. Alcohol marketing has recently been targeted more towards a young African American demographic- as they are the most likely demographic to watch/listen to hip-hop/rap music and therefore, be most likely the most influenced. Mr. Jernigan, executive director, center on alcohol marketing and youth of Georgetown University, stated “we found that African American youth ages 12-2- were exposed to 66% more advertising for beer and ale and 81% for distilled spirits. The heaviest exposure African American youth gets is for cognacs and brandies, which have been heavily tied with the hip-hop/rap culture” (NPR 2006).
It’s no surprise that hip-hop/rap music follows with it a culture of drugs and sex, but the question of whether or not it is influencing listeners to act violent and graphic is unknown. There’s not enough research and it’s too difficult to tell based on other factors such as the teenager’s upbringings, hometown and education.

Works Cited:

Tropeano, E. (2006). Does Rap or Rock Music Provoke Violent Behavior? , 1. Retrieved
October 20, 2015, from

Study: Rap Music Linked to Alcohol, Violence (2006, May 8). In National Public Radio.
Retrieved from

3 thoughts on “Does Rap Music Lead to Agressive Behavior?

  1. Adam David Mccullough

    This is an interesting topic because I can not tell you how many times I have heard that “rap and hip hop promotes violence.” I generally hear this from an older generation, but would like to point out that Rock n Roll songs can have violent lyrics as well. I concede that it is more than possible that this is true, however it has not been scientifically proven. I guess the other aspect to this looking past what the music and lyrics, is the fact that rappers can become role models and there is certainly the stereotype that all rappers are violent. I would also be curious to see if music has a larger impact on people’s behavior over something like video games. Also, I wonder if music has a larger effect on young people because they tend to be more impressionable.

  2. Rachel Coblentz

    The study you explained does seem to be consistent the hypothesis that rap music leads to aggressive behavior. However, like you said it is impossible to tell off just this one study. It could be a fluke. The third variables you mentioned are also a very real concern. The results of an experiment would be very different if someone conducted in the Bronx compared to a wealthy suburb. I would love for more studies to be done, so we could create a meta-analysis on this.

  3. sdm5399

    In this study, I think you’re on to something about how the meaning of rap and hip-hop music overall has something behind it as a collective culture, rather than just merely offensive imagery and lyrics. In terms of psychology, I would want to look further into the difference in a human being’s capacity to listen to and take part in something such as rap music without identifying with it. If there is any significant difference in those capacities, I think there would be more of an answer as to how much more profoundly rap music influences its listeners. This interdisciplinary journal further delineates more of what you’re talking about with how the music influences youth. I would like to see more studies done on not just the frequency of listening to this kind of music for people, but survey the behavior of other people that perceive others listening to rap music, to see if there are more variables that heighten the violence and negative imagery in certain types of rap, e.g. someone further embracing a rap or hip hop mentality in their music if they receive negative bias outwardly from people that perceive them listening to it.

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