Who's Afraid of Rap: Differential Reactions to Music Lyrics1


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    These data were presented at the 1997 Midwestern Psychological Conference. I would like to thank Mark Rabens, Sally Rabens, and Kim Rabens for their help with data collection.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Carrie B. Fried, Psychology Department, Winona State University, Winona, MN 55987-5838.


This research examines the recent public outcry against violent rap songs. It was hypothesized that rap music receives more negative criticism than do other types of music, regardless of the actual content of the lyrics. Participants read a violent lyrical passage and were led to believe that it was either a rap song or a country song. They then responded to how offensive and dangerous they thought the song was. The results support the hypothesis. When a violent lyrical passage was represented as a rap song, reactions to the lyrics were significantly more negative. Age, whether or not the participants had children, and the participants’ music tastes and buying habits were all significantly related to whether or not this biased judgment occurred. The findings are briefly discussed in terms of various models of racism and stereotyping.