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May 2022

Bad rap for rap: Bias in reactions to music lyrics

Journal/Book: J Appl Soc Psychol. 1996; 26: 360 South Ocean Blvd, pH-B, Palm Beach, FL 33480. V H Winston & Son Inc. 2135-2146.

Abstract: This research examines the recent public outcry against violent rap songs such as Ice T's ''Cop Killer.'' It was hypothesized that rap lyrics receive more negative criticism than other types of lyrics, perhaps because of their association with Black culture. Two experiments were conducted to examine the effect of musical genre and race of singer on reactions to violent song lyrics. The results support the hypothesis. When a violent lyrical passage is represented as a rap song, or associated with a Black singer, subjects find the lyrics objectionable, worry about the consequences of such lyrics, and support some form of government regulation. If the same lyrical passage is presented as country or folk music, or is associated with a White artist, reactions to the lyrics are significantly less critical on all dimensions. The findings are briefly discussed in terms of various models of racism and stereotyping.

Note: Article Fried CB, Indiana Univ, Dept Psychol, 1700 Mishawaka Ave, Box 7111, S Bend,IN 46634 USA

Keyword(s): STEREOTYPES; INDIVIDUALS; PREJUDICE; BEHAVIOR; JUDGMENT; RACISM


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