Music makes you racist

23 Apr

A student recently mailed me a link to a Daily Mail story suggesting that exposure to certain types of music makes you racist.

The story reports a study by Heather LaMarre, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Minnesota and Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick at associate professor of the Ohio State University School of Communications entittled  ‘Does the Music Matter? Examining Differential Effects of Music Genre on Support for Ethnic Groups’, published in the Jan 2012 edition of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. 

The Mail’s story is a fairly straight report of the study, indeed it bares a partial resemblance to a press release about the paper produced by Ohio State University. As such this story requires students to delve a little deeper than usual, and read the original paper.

The study involved playing students a number of different genres of musis and then assessing it’s impact on the allocation of funding to on-campus racially-based student groups.

There are a range of points about the paper that are worthy of discussions with students:

1) The researcher’s were not psychologists. One would suspect that the average reader of the Mail article would assume that the work was conducted by psychologists, and it’s intriguing that the paper doesn’t seem to address psychology-based theory on group behaviour

2) The student only employs white participants. Whilst the authors acknowledge this in the paper it would seem to limit the value of the results

3) There is an assumption that popular music can be easily categorised into race-specific genres. Whilst this division might to realistic in the States my students thought that it didn’t really work in the UK

4) The study doesn’t have a ‘Rap’ group. Given the hypothesis oif the study it is curious that it did not include Rap as one of the categories of music, hypothesising that this would influence cash allocations to African -American groups

In all the paper is a really nice example to get students to deconstruct a paper and see if it makes sense to them




One Response to “Music makes you racist”


  1. They might speak our language, but they’re not like us … « Teaching Rational Thinking - August 15, 2012

    […] using US participants. For example, I’ve previously written about a study suggesting that certain types of music may make you racist which I suspect may be a good example of a cultural skewed piece of […]

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