The role of moral reasoning & personality in explaining lyrical preferences

Autoři: Kyle J. Messick aff001;  Blanca E. Aranda aff001
Působiště autorů: Brain, Belief, & Behaviour Lab, Coventry University, Coventry, England aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article


Previous research has supported that personality traits can act to a precursor to media preferences. Due to the ongoing association between morality and media preferences in public and political discourse (e.g., blaming immoral behaviours on media preferences), this research sought to expand the knowledge about factors that contribute to media preferences by investigating if moral reasoning styles explain some of the variance that was not already explained by personality traits. A specific form of media preferences were chosen – lyrical preferences in metal music – as claims between metal lyrical themes and behaviour have been ongoing since the 1980s, despite a lack of empirical evidence to support these claims. A lyrical preferences scale was developed, and utilizing this scale, it was found that different types of metal fans exhibit different moral reasoning styles dependent on their metal sub-genre identification. Further, it was found that moral reasoning styles explain a portion of the variance in lyrical preferences that weren’t already explained by personality traits. In particular, lyrical preferences were often thematically consistent with moral reasoning content and personality traits, such as that individuals that preferred lyrics about celebrating metal culture and unity had higher levels of the group loyalty moral reasoning domain alongside being higher in extraversion. The implications of moral reasoning styles and personality traits as being precursors to media preferences are discussed.

Klíčová slova:

Behavior – Culture – Emotions – Personality – Personality traits – Reasoning – Religion – Video games


1. Baker F, Bor W. Can music preference indicate mental health status in young people?. Australasian Psychiatry. 2008; 16(4):284–8. doi: 10.1080/10398560701879589 18608148

2. Chory RM, Goodboy AK. Is basic personality related to violent and non-violent video game play and preferences?. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 2011; 14(4):191–8.

3. Krcmar M, Kean LG. Uses and gratifications of media violence: Personality correlates of viewing and liking violent genres. Media Psychology. 2005; 7(4): 399–420.

4. Kiilakoski T, Oksanen A. Soundtrack of the school shootings: Cultural script, music and male rage. Young. 2011;19(3): 247–69.

5. Aarons H. Moral Distinction: Religion, musical taste and the moral cultural consumer. Journal of Consumer Culture. 2018; 0(0):1–21.

6. Meij J, Probstfield MD, Simpson JM, Knottnerus D J. Moving past violence and vulgarity: Structural ritualization and constructed meaning in the heavy metal subculture. Music Sociology: Examining the Role of Music in Social Life, edited by Horsfall Sara Towe, Meij Jan-Martijn, and Probstfield Meghan D. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers. 2013: 60–69.

7. Mendoza S, Varas-Diaz N, Rivera-Segarra E, Velez C. Media representations of metal music in the Dominican Republic: Between oppression and social resistance. Metal Music Studies. 2018; 4(1):197–208.

8. Spracklen K. Sex, drugs, Satan and rock and roll: re-thinking dark leisure, from theoretical framework to an exploration of pop-rock-metal music norms. Annals of Leisure Research. 2018; 21(4):407–23.

9. Sun Y, Lu X, Williams M, Thompson WF. Implicit violent imagery processing among fans and non-fans of music with violent themes. Royal Society Open Science. 2019; 6(3):1–11.

10. Gay JL. Moral boundaries and deviant music: Public attitudes toward heavy metal and rap. Deviant Behavior. 2000; 21(1):63–85.

11. Phillips D. J., Owens DA. Incumbents, innovation, and competence: The emergence of recorded jazz, 1920 to 1929. Poetics. 2004; 32(3–4):281–295.

12. Winfield BH, Davidson S, editors. Bleep! censoring rock and rap music. Praeger Pub Text; 1999.

13. Bald M. Literature suppressed on religious grounds. Infobase Publishing; 2014.

14. Carlson CL. Jazz, Drama, and a Librarian: Advocating Against Book Censorship in Public Schools. Kansas English. 2018; 99(1):8–12.

15. Lyden J. Introduction. In Lyden J, editor. The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film. London: Routledge; 2009.

16. Weisskirch RS, Murphy LC. Friends, porn, and punk: Sensation seeking in personal relationships, internet activities, and music preference among college students. Adolescence. 2004; 39(154): 189–201. 15563033

17. Baker F, Bor W. Can music preference indicate mental health status in young people?. Australasian Psychiatry. 2008; 16(4): 284–8. doi: 10.1080/10398560701879589 18608148

18. Howe TR, Aberson CL, Friedman HS, Murphy SE, Alcazar E, Vazquez EJ, Becker R. Three decades later: the life experiences and mid-life functioning of 1980s heavy metal groupies, musicians, and fans. Self and Identity. 2015; 14(5): 602–6.

19. Mulder J, Ter Bogt TF, Raaijmakers QA, Gabhainn SN, Monshouwer K, Vollebergh WA. The soundtrack of substance use: music preference and adolescent smoking and drinking. Substance Use & Misuse. 2009; 44(4): 514–31.

20. Hjelm T, Kahn-Harris K, LeVine M. Heavy metal as controversy and counterculture. Popular Music History. 2012; 6(1): 5–18.

21. Labbé E, Schmidt N, Babin J, Pharr M. Coping with stress: the effectiveness of different types of music. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 2007; 32(3–4): 163–8. doi: 10.1007/s10484-007-9043-9 17965934

22. Kneer J, Rieger D. The memory remains: How heavy metal fans buffer against the fear of death. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. 2016; 5(3): 258.

23. Recours R, Aussaguel F, Trujillo N. Metal music and mental health in France. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. 2009; 33(3): 473–88.

24. Miranda D, Claes M. Music listening, coping, peer affiliation and depression in adolescence. Psychology of Music. 2009; 37(2): 215–33.

25. Anderson CA, Bushman BJ. The effects of media violence on society. Science. 2002; 295(5564): 2377–9. doi: 10.1126/science.1070765 11923513

26. Bushman BJ, Huesmann LR. Short-term and long-term effects of violent media on aggression in children and adults. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2006; 160(4): 348–52.

27. Ferguson CJ, Kilburn J. The public health risks of media violence: A meta-analytic review. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2009; 154(5): 759–63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.11.033 19230901

28. Beerthuizen MG, Weijters G, van der Laan AM. The release of Grand Theft Auto V and registered juvenile crime in the Netherlands. European Journal of Criminology. 2017; 14(6): 751–65.

29. Markey PM, Markey CN, French JE. Violent video games and real-world violence: Rhetoric versus data. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. 2015; 4(4): 277.

30. Anderson CA, Carnagey NL, Eubanks J. Exposure to violent media: The effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2003; 84(5): 960. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.5.960 12757141

31. Jacob C, Guéguen N, Boulbry G. Effects of songs with prosocial lyrics on tipping behavior in a restaurant. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2010; 29(4): 761–3.

32. Ruth N. “Heal the World”: A field experiment on the effects of music with prosocial lyrics on prosocial behavior. Psychology of Music. 2017; 45(2): 298–304.

33. Pieschl S, Fegers S. Violent lyrics = aggressive listeners? Effects of song lyrics and tempo on cognition, affect, and self-reported arousal. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications. 2016; 28(1): 32.

34. Guéguen N, Jacob C, Lamy L. ‘Love is in the air’: Effects of songs with romantic lyrics on compliance with a courtship request. Psychology of Music. 2010; 38(3): 303–7.

35. Greitemeyer T, Hollingdale J, Traut-Mattausch E. Changing the track in music and misogyny: Listening to music with pro-equality lyrics improves attitudes and behavior toward women. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. 2015; 4(1): 56.

36. Eischeid SA, Kneer J, Englich B. Peace of mind: The impact of metal gestures on stress and power. Metal Music Studies. 2019; 5(2): 137–150.

37. Messick KJ, Aranda B, Day C. The experiences of metal fans with mental and developmental disorders in the metal music community. 2019. Preprint available via OSF Preprints. doi: 10.31219/

38. Yamasaki A, Mise Y, Mise Y, Lee JE, Aloia TA, Katz MH, Chang GJ, Lillemoe KD, Raut CP, Conrad C. Musical preference correlates closely to professional roles and specialties in operating room: a multicenter cross-sectional cohort study with 672 participants. Surgery. 2016; 159(5):1260–8. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2015.10.031 26706609

39. Anderson CA, Carnagey NL, Eubanks J. Exposure to violent media: The effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2003; 84(5): 960. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.5.960 12757141

40. Drislane R, Parkinson G. Moral panic. Online dictionary of the social sciences. 2016. Open University of Canada. Retrieved from

41. Cohen S. Folk devils and moral panics. London: Paladin. 1973.

42. Critcher C. Moral panic analysis: Past, present and future. Sociology Compass. 2008; 2(4): 1127–1144.

43. Goode E, Ben-Yehuda N. Moral panic: The social construction of deviance. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell. 2009.

44. Critcher C. Moral Panics. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 2017.

45. Paterson AB, Stark C. Social policy and mental illness in England in the 1990s: violence, moral panic and critical discourse. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 2001; 8(3): 257–267. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2850.2001.00392.x 11882135

46. Davies CL, Sibley CG, Liu JH. Confirmatory factor analysis of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Social Psychology. 2014. doi: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000198

47. Haidt, J. The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. 2012. New York, Pantheon.

48. Graham J, Haidt J, Koleva S, Motyl M, Iyer R, Wojcik SP, Ditto PH. Moral foundations theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. 2013; 47: 55–130. Academic Press.

49. Dickinson JL, McLeod P, Bloomfield R, Allred S. Which moral foundations predict willingness to make lifestyle changes to avert climate change in the USA?. PloS one. 2016; 11(10): 1–11.

50. Krull DS. Religiosity and moral foundations: differing views about the basis of right and wrong. Journal of Psychology and Christianity. 2016; 35(1): 41.

51. Graham J, Haidt J, Nosek BA. Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2009; 96(5): 1029. doi: 10.1037/a0015141 19379034

52. De Backer CJ, Hudders L. Meat morals: relationship between meat consumption consumer attitudes towards human and animal welfare and moral behavior. Meat Science. 2015; 99: 68–74. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2014.08.011 25282670

53. Krcmar M, Cingel DP. Moral foundations theory and moral reasoning in video game play: Using real-life morality in a game context. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 2016; 60(1):87–103.

54. Hartmann T, Toz E, Brandon M. Just a game? Unjustified virtual violence produces guilt in empathetic players. Media Psychology. 2010; 13(4):339–63.

55. Hartmann T, Vorderer P. It's okay to shoot a character: Moral disengagement in violent video games. Journal of Communication. 2010; 60(1):94–119.

56. Tamborini R. Moral intuition and media entertainment. Journal of Media Psychology. 2011; 23(1): 39–45.

57. Tamborini R. Eden A, Bowman ND, Grizzard M, Lachlan KA. The influence of morality subcultures on the acceptance and appeal of violence. Journal of Communication. 2012; 62(1):136–57.

58. Low M, Wui MG. Moral foundations and attitudes towards the poor. Current Psychology. 2016; 35(4):650–6.

59. Weber CR, Federico CM. Moral foundations and heterogeneity in ideological preferences. Political Psychology. 2013; 34(1):107–26.

60. Larsson S. ‘I Bang my Head, Therefore I Am’: Constructing Individual and Social Authenticity in the Heavy Metal Subculture. Young. 2013; 21(1): 95–110.

61. Guibert C, Guibert G. The social characteristics of the contemporary metalhead: the Hellfest survey. In Brown Andy R, Spracklen Karl, Kahn-Harris Keith and Scott Siall W.R. (Eds.), Global metal music and culture: current directions in metal studies: 167–189. New York, New York: Routledge. 2016.

62. John O. P., Srivastava S. The Big-Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In Pervin L. A. & John O. P. (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research: Vol. 2, pp. 102–138. New York: Guilford Press. 1999.

63. Graham J, Haidt J, Nosek BA. The moral foundations questionnaire. 2008. Available from:

64. Davis DE, Dooley MT, Hook JN, Choe E, McElroy SE. The purity/sanctity subscale of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire does not work similarly for religious versus non-religious individuals. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. 2017; 9(1): 124.

65. Gray K, Keeney JE. Disconfirming moral foundations theory on its own terms: Reply to Graham (2015). Social Psychological and Personality Science. 2015; 6(8):874–7.

66. Cordero J. Unveiling Satan’s wrath: Aesthetics and ideology in anti-Christian heavy metal. The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. 2009; 21(1).

67. Iurino K, Saucier G. Testing measurement invariance of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire across 27 countries. Assessment. 2018.

68. Graham J, Meindl P, Beall E, Johnson KM, Zhang L. Cultural differences in moral judgment and behavior, across and within societies. Current Opinion in Psychology. 2016; (1)8:1–18. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.09.008

Článek vyšel v časopise


2020 Číslo 1
Nejčtenější tento týden