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Research suggests that individuals may identify themselves with and in the terms/concepts present in their preferred music. Rap music, for example, is associated with identity formation, self-esteem, gender attitudes, and body image (Dixon, Zhang, & Conrad, 2009; Henry, West, & Jackson, 2010). We hypothesized that these self-conceptualizations might differ depending on the focus of the rap music listened to: pro-social or anti-social. The goal of this study, therefore, was to identify terms that people associate with pro-social and anti-social rap.

Using an online survey, participants were asked to rate the extent to which they associated a list of terms/concepts with both pro-social and anti-social rap. We identified terms that participants associate with one sub-genre significantly more than with the other sub-genre. For instance, calm and ethical were associated more with pro-social rap while hostile and dangerous were associated more with anti-social rap.

This research is important because listening to rap music has been shown to have a wide range of effects on its listeners, and it is hypothesized that associations learned through rap music may act as a pathway for these effects (Travis & Bowman, 2012). Violence, substance use, misogyny, self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and risky sexual behavior are just a few outcomes associated with rap music (e.g. Johnson & Baker, 2015; Travis & Bowman, 2012; Tropeano, 2006). While many of these effects are negative, it is possible that if one were to examine sub-genres of rap, the effects might be more varied. Listening to pro-social rap may lead individuals to identify with more positive concepts, thereby mitigating some of the previously demonstrated negative effects. The genre-specific concepts identified in this pilot study will be used in a follow-up study to determine if an individual’s self-concept matches the concepts present in their preferred sub-genre of rap music.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Event location
    • Cleveland Ballroom

  • Event date
    • 2 November 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022