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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Does Rock Music Make People Racist? These Researchers Think So

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM

click to enlarge What effect does Bruce's music allegedly have on white people?
  • What effect does Bruce's music allegedly have on white people?

Today in the department of WTF, we have this: A new study from researchers at the University of Minnesota claims that listening to even just a few minutes of rock music like Bruce Springsteen or the White Stripes causes white people to favor their own race to the detriment of others.

Meanwhile, listening to Top 40 pop caused white subjects to treat all races equally, the study found.

Researchers created a test in which white students were asked to allocate money between different student groups. Before the allocation, the test subjects were isolated in a room with different kinds of music playing. After about seven minutes of quiet listening -- which the students thought was not part of the experiment -- they were asked how to divide tuition money between four student groups: the Centres of African American Studies, Rural and Agricultural Studies, Arab American Studies, and Latino American Studies.

Listening to pop music like Akon and Fergie caused the white test subjects to divide the money about equally, with one-quarter going to each group. But listening to rock like the White Stripes led to the students giving the white ethnic group 35 percent of the funds, and dividing the rest equally among the other groups, researchers said.

'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," Heather LaMarre, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Minnesota, told British tabloid the Daily Mail.

Listening to white power music with racist lyrics like Skrewdriver and Bound For Glory produced an even stronger race-bias in the participants, with test subjects giving 40 percent of the money to the white group. They then divided the rest of the money unevenly between other races, with the Arab-American group getting the smallest portion.

The researchers say this proves that the cultural associations of music -- even apart from its lyrics -- have a strong effect on listeners. "'It shows that it is not just the lyrics that matter. Good, old-fashioned rock 'n' 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," associate professor Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick told the newspaper. "[Music] has the power to reinforce our positive biases toward our own group, and sometimes negative biases toward others."

That's what the researchers say, anyway. What do you think?

[Daily Mail]

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