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An Investigation of empathy among fans and non-fans of violent-music

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:49 authored by Aimy Slade
Introduction -- Method -- Results -- Discussion -- References -- Appendices


Table of Contents

Exposure to violent video games is linked to negative outcomes such as reduced empathy for the plight of others. No research has investigated whether violent music exposure has similar effects. The present study investigated whether fans of violent-music show reduced empathic reactions to aggression when compared to non-fans of violent music. 108 participants self identified as fans of violent heavy/death metal, classical or jazz music (n=36 per group). Participants were presented with a random selection of vignettes that described a primary character's reaction ('aggressor') to a secondary character's irritating action ('instigator'). The aggressor's reaction was non-aggressive, mildly aggressive or strongly aggressive. After reading each vignette, participants rated state empathic concern (other-oriented empathy) and personal distress (self-oriented concern) in response to the aggressor's reaction. They also completed measures of trait empathic concern and personal distress, and a questionnaire about the perceived social functions of music. It was hypothesised that when compared to violent music non-fans, fans would report lower trait empathy and reduced state empathic concern and personal distress in response to the aggressive reactions. As predicted, fans of violent-music reported significantly lower trait empathic concern when compared to classical and jazz fans. However, state empathic concern and personal distress in response to the aggressive reactions did not significantly differ between groups. Finally, social bonding was a stronger motivation for violent music fans to listen to their respective music genre compared to fans of classical music. Results are discussed in light of cognitive and behavioural consequences of desensitisation to media violence and pre-existing individual differences between fans of different musical genres.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 59-67

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Bill Thompson

Additional Supervisor 1

Kirk Olsen


Copyright Aimy Slade 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




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