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October 2021

The Correlation Between Content of Preferred Music and Psychiatric Diagnosis of Criminal Offenders and Effects of This Music of Observed Behavior

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between diagnosis of forensic clients with mental illnesses and the content of songs chosen by them, and to examine the effect of these preferred songs on their behavior. Thirty men with criminal charges and mental illnesses, ages 18-30, residing in a Correctional Mental Health Institution served as subjects. Each subject selected three songs as a representation of their music preference, and then were observed during music listening and nonmusic listening and quantified, as was the individual's diagnosis using DSM-III criteria. Statistical analysis of the data revealed that subjects with a higher score in diagnosis (indicating a higher level of mental illness) selected songs scoring lower in DSM-III criteria (songs considered to contain less material characteristic of mental illness symptomatology). Inappropriate behaviors were exhibited slightly more often during music listening than during the nonmusic condition, but this difference was not statistically significant. The suppositions that music therapists should restrict certain types of music from mental health clients to prevent escalation of behavior problems, ant that mental health patients choose "socially inappropriate music" would seem to be false.

Note: music-listening.

Keyword(s): diagnosis, prisoners, correctional-institutions, psychiatric, songs, content-analysis, music-preference.

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