Menus Subscribe Search
lilwayne

Lil Wayne

Your Preteen Hip-Hop Fan May Be Headed for Trouble

• January 22, 2013 • 4:05 PM

Lil Wayne

New research from the Netherlands suggests a youngster’s music preference can predict whether he or she will be a shoplifter or vandal four years later.

Concerned that your 12-year-old is on the road to delinquency? Newly published research suggests an easy way to either assuage or confirm your fears:

Check what’s on their iPod.

“Music choice is a strong marker of later problem behavior,” a research team from Utrecht University in the Netherlands writes in the journal Pediatrics.

Specifically, the scholars report, kids “with a strong early preference for music types that have been labeled as deviant—hip-hop, heavy metal, gothic, punk, and techno/hardhouse—were more engaged in minor delinquency in late adolescence” than their Beyonce- and-Bieber-loving peers.

The study featured 149 boys and 160 girls attending urban high schools in the Netherlands. They took surveys at ages 12, 14, 15 and 16, in which they rated their appreciation of various musical genres. They also reported “how many times they had committed minor offenses, such as shoplifting, petty theft and vandalism in the previous year.”

After controlling for such factors as academic achievement, the researchers found “evidence that an early preference for different types of noisy, rebellious, non-mainstream music genres is a strong predictor of concurrent and later minor delinquency.”

Specifically, those kids who loved hip-hop, metal, gothic and/or trance music at age 12 were more likely than their peers to exhibit delinquent behavior, both at age 12 and age 16. Those who preferred rock, R&B, punk and techno at age 12 were not more likely to be delinquents at that age, but were more likely to engage in such behavior by age 16.

The researchers, led by Tom F.M. ter Bogt, caution that “public claims that engaging with ‘deviant’ media will inevitably lead to problem behavior are wildly exaggerated.” They point out that the study measures not hard-core criminality, but rather “typical adolescent norm breaking behaviors that tend to disappear in early adulthood.”

They also note that, in their study, gradually developing preferences for non-mainstream music in the years between 12 and 16 was not related to delinquency in late adolescence. Rather, the correlation was found only among kids who were already heavily into alternative music at age 12.

The researchers believe such youngsters tend to congregate with peers who have similar musical tastes, creating cliques that are cut off from mainstream influences and behavioral norms. “In peer groups characterized by their deviant music taste, norm-breaking youth may ‘infect’ their friends with their behaviors,” they speculate.

If they’re right, it isn’t the music per se that leads kids into delinquency (although anti-social lyrics could conceivably play a role). It’s more the fact that kids who gravitate to other nonconformists at a young age miss out on the benefits of being part of mainstream society—including the positive influences of popular peers.

So if your preteen is listening to Metallica, some early intervention may be in order. On the other hand, if he or she is into Mozart or Monk, fear not: Such kids may also be outside the mainstream, but this isolation does not manifest itself in a negative way.

Indeed, the researchers report, “Preferences for classical music related negatively to delinquency at age 12.”

 

Tom Jacobs
Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Ventura County Star.

More From Tom Jacobs

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

September 19 • 4:00 PM

In Your Own Words: What It’s Like to Get Sued Over Past Debts

Some describe their surprise when they were sued after falling behind on medical and credit card bills.



September 19 • 1:26 PM

For Charitable Products, Sex Doesn’t Sell

Sexy women may turn heads, but for pro-social and charitable products, they won’t change minds.


September 19 • 12:00 PM

Carbon Taxes Really Do Work

A new study shows that taxing carbon dioxide emissions could actually work to reduce greenhouse gases without any negative effects on employment and revenues.


September 19 • 10:00 AM

Why the Poor Remain Poor

A follow-up to “How Being Poor Makes You Poor.”


September 19 • 9:03 AM

Why Science Won’t Defeat Ebola

While science will certainly help, winning the battle against Ebola is a social challenge.


September 19 • 8:00 AM

Burrito Treason in the Lone Star State

Did Meatless Mondays bring down Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples?


September 19 • 7:31 AM

Savor Good Times, Get Through the Bad Ones—With Categories

Ticking off a category of things to do can feel like progress or a fun time coming to an end.


September 19 • 6:00 AM

The Most Untouchable Man in Sports

How the head of the governing body for the world’s most popular sport freely wields his wildly incompetent power.


September 19 • 4:00 AM

The Danger of Dining With an Overweight Companion

There’s a good chance you’ll eat more unhealthy food.



September 18 • 4:00 PM

Racial Disparity in Imprisonment Inspires White People to Be Even More Tough on Crime

White Americans are more comfortable with punitive and harsh policing and sentencing when they imagine that the people being policed and put in prison are black.



September 18 • 2:00 PM

The Wages of Millions Are Being Seized to Pay Past Debts

A new study provides the first-ever tally of how many employees lose up to a quarter of their paychecks over debts like unpaid credit card or medical bills and student loans.


September 18 • 12:00 PM

When Counterfeit and Contaminated Drugs Are Deadly

The cost and the crackdown, worldwide.


September 18 • 10:00 AM

How Do You Make a Living, Molly Crabapple?

Noah Davis talks to Molly Crapabble about Michelangelo, the Medicis, and the tension between making art and making money.


September 18 • 9:00 AM

Um, Why Are These Professors Creeping on My Facebook Page?

The ethics of student-teacher “intimacy”—on campus and on social media.


September 18 • 8:00 AM

Welcome to the Economy Economy

With the recent introduction of Apple Pay, the Silicon Valley giant is promising to remake how we interact with money. Could iCoin be next?



September 18 • 6:09 AM

How to Build a Better Election

Elimination-style voting is harder to fiddle with than majority rule.


September 18 • 6:00 AM

Homeless on Purpose

The latest entry in a series of interviews about subculture in America.


September 18 • 4:00 AM

Why Original Artworks Move Us More Than Reproductions

Researchers present evidence that hand-created artworks convey an almost magical sense of the artist’s essence.


September 17 • 4:00 PM

Why Gun Control Groups Have Moved Away From an Assault Weapons Ban

A decade after the ban expired, gun control groups say that focusing on other policies will save more American lives.


September 17 • 2:00 PM

Can You Make Two People Like Each Other Just By Telling Them That They Should?

OKCupid manipulates user data in an attempt to find out.


September 17 • 12:00 PM

Understanding ISIL Messaging Through Behavioral Science

By generating propaganda that taps into individuals’ emotional and cognitive states, ISIL is better able motivate people to join their jihad.


Follow us


For Charitable Products, Sex Doesn’t Sell

Sexy women may turn heads, but for pro-social and charitable products, they won't change minds.

Carbon Taxes Really Do Work

A new study shows that taxing carbon dioxide emissions could actually work to reduce greenhouse gases without any negative effects on employment and revenues.

Savor Good Times, Get Through the Bad Ones—With Categories

Ticking off a category of things to do can feel like progress or a fun time coming to an end.

How to Build a Better Election

Elimination-style voting is harder to fiddle with than majority rule.

Do Conspiracy Theorists Feed on Unsuspecting Internet Trolls?

Not literally, but debunkers and satirists do fuel conspiracy theorists' appetites.

The Big One

One in three drivers in Brooklyn's Park Slope—at certain times of day—is just looking for parking. The same goes for drivers in Manhattan's SoHo. September/October 2014 new-big-one-3

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.