1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

What hit songs tell us about society’s psyche? April 5, 2011

Filed under: thoughts — axinia @ 1:05 pm

Popular music is doing more than entertaining society, it’s giving a University of Kentucky researcher a window into how society is changing and apparently becoming more self-loving.

 The current research “Tuning in to psychological change: Linguistic markers of psychological traits and emotions over time in popular U.S. song lyrics” by DeWall, C. Nathan; Pond, Richard S., Jr.; Campbell, W. Keith; Twenge, Jean M. tested the hypothesis that one cultural product—word use in popular song lyrics—changes over time in harmony with cultural changes in individualistic traits.

Linguistic analyses of the most popular songs from 1980–2007 demonstrated changes in word use that mirror psychological change. Over time, use of words related to self-focus and antisocial behavior increased, whereas words related to other-focus, social interactions, and positive emotion decreased.

Using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program, which “counts the percentage of words in a body of text that correspond to various categories,” they analyzed the content of the lyrics in several related ways.

The researchers found the use of first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) declined over the years, while the use of first-person singular pronouns (I, me, mine) increased. Words reflecting anger or antisocial behavior (hate, kill, damn) became more prevalent over the 28-year period.

Conversely, terms depicting social interactions (talking, sharing) became less common, as did the use of words conveying positive emotions (love, nice, sweet). These findings mirror “recent evidence showing increases in U.S. loneliness and psychopathology over time,” the researchers write.

This is troubling in the light of other recent research that found songs conveying antisocial messages tend to promote aggressive thoughts and hostile feelings, while those with lyrics promoting peace and love can increase empathy and encourage selflessness.

DeWall said the finding that narcissism in society is increasing, along with anxiety, is widely known in many psychological studies. He said liking yourself and being confident is one thing, but loving yourself to the point of not being able to take criticism is something totally different.

“People don’t understand why this is a problem. Promoting this type of overconfidence where criticism is the enemy is unhealthy.  The question is: where does this end? Movies, sitcoms, TV — a lot of this is self-focused. What does this say about us?”


16 Responses to “What hit songs tell us about society’s psyche?”

  1. Ulyana Says:

    Such an important point. You only need to turn on MTV to see just how removed we have become. Artists like Rihanna and Lady Gaga, for example share soul-less, if not cruel messages and the missuse of sexual energy and the Divine female form is prevalent amongst most of the songs and footage we’re exposed to. The subliminal messages and the brainwashing images confuse young people, as the grow into adults. They are certainly affecting the collective psyche on this level. There is a good book by Eldon Taylor “Mind Programming”, which is about his personal experience in the psycho-analytical field, the true affects of advertising, images and subliminal messages and the organisations that are using this power and knowledge to make profit and control. It is a “darker” book, at least in the first half, while the second half explains how to empower yourself against this wide spread manipulation.
    Good post Axinia :))

  2. swaps Says:

    …hmmm no idea which is the latest chart topper. I tend to like old songs…or even better, plain music.

  3. Sam Says:

    Good post Axinia.Its not only the music that is responsible for this generation having a gullible mind but also movies,TV shows,commercials etc.Ultra-violent movies and TV shows are making this young generation very much aggressive.When I was in the 5th grade I used to love an Indian Gag show.I started it liking so much that I decided to have a discussion about it in the short break.But when I asked my classmates about it they gave me a confused look and said that they even hadn’t heard about it.They said that if I want to talk about a wrestling show then I am welcome.Anyways your post is about music and I agree with it.All modern music is based on fashion,materialism and an illusion known as love for opposite sex.That’s not real love.The true meaning of love is loving everyone equally.As you might know that a man must love a man as a brother and woman as a sister.You might also know that there can’t be friendship between a man and a woman.Its totally against divine laws.But what am I confused about is that if western music usually has all this ‘nonsense’ in a larger proportion than the Asian/Indian music then why are Indians more arrogant,aggressive,wicked and corrupted than the western people?Honestly as an Indian I think that Indians are the most indisciplined human breed alive on this planet.

    • axinia Says:

      Sam, if you caompare Indians to the rest of the world, i wonder hw many Westerners /Africans /other Asians you know in person? Is that what your presonal experience say or only the second-hand experience? Western people may appear nice but the agression is often a hidden one, it just manifests in other ways.

    • axinia Says:

      Sam, right, it is not only the music, however the music is the most powerful media -it penetrates into you even when you are not aware of that. We are exposed to music more than to other things, and it works very subtle.

  4. Sam Says:

    I heard it from my uncle who currently stays in England.He was telling me that what Indian’s lack of western people.
    In Europe if a person by mistake pushes you on the street he apologizes at the next second.But in India people mostly push you on purpose and no one cares to say sorry.
    In Europe no one spits tobacco juice or gurgles water on the street but in India they do all this type of rubbish and they urinate anywhere they want on the streets.
    Indians do not follow general traffic rules.They park in a no-parking zone,brake the traffic signals,overtake from the left side,don’t follow the speed limit etc but in Europe all the traffic rules are obeyed.
    No respect for ladies.If a pregnant lady is travelling by a bus no one will care to give her a seat but in Europe its the exact opposite.
    In India the citizens even lack common sense.They know the ill effects of overpopulation like rise in the competition,poverty,unemployment etc still some houses will give birth to 10 babies every year.But in Europe the people are aware of population growth.Some of the countries even have a negative population growth.
    Even Shri Mataji has admitted that Indians are the most arrogant people on this earth.You might haven’t seen that video because it was in Marathi.
    These were just to name a few.You have been to India right then you might be aware of all this.The only thing that is incredible about India is its past-culture.Yeah the past culture and not the modern culture.The Indian modern culture is the same exact like that of the west.All the nonsense that is currently going on in the west is also going on in India,thanks to their influence through television and internet.Other than India’s past culture there is nothing incredible about it.

    • axinia Says:

      Sam, i can see your point here. Yes, in terms of politeness and manners West is doing very well. But I tell you, every country has its own black and white points and none of the them is ding really well. You know, I was professionally intrested in Intrecultural Communication some years back, studiying mindet and cultures of various nations. I can literary make a long list of problems and strengths of every country you like.

      It is good that you can see the bad ponts of your nation but we also have to learn to see the good ones and appreciate. I made my homework with Russia which is quite a controversial land 🙂

      India has a lot to offer, not only the history, – I have been to India many times and my expereinces with people are mostly very positive and pleasant. Although I am very much aware of the dark side of Indians too.

      • mahesh chendake Says:

        Arrogance is part of cultural upbringing. what I find India is lacking in somewhere in self satisfaction .it’s OK about struggle for survival but how much extent we go each one has to see.The children involve in Music industry I feel they have lost their childhood.They and their parent very much attracted by glamor and forget about real learning and Joy of music. There are lot of things which can be done form earning for bread now a days which we are lacking somewhere. Darker side of India is lying in that .in every aspect we see the business.issues of royalties and intellectual property are at great extent .so there is no good music seen today.Music based on ragas we dont listen and understand which affect at a very substal level . Even new Lerner are not interested in that they are interested in chief popularity and forget about long struggle ( Sadhana) needed for good learning even difficult to find that kind of teacher .they are also money oriented. there is no harm to earn money from it as we see many struggle for better life in old age when they are not earning but for that also their habits are important somewhere what I feel they would have land up in bankruptcy only apart from how much they earn . Dr Jaddishchandra bose proved effect of music on plants then why not on Man. It does affect.so it is important what music ,what TV channels,serials we choose to see and show to children.It is indirect impact children learn from us we should not blem to them.If music is shifting to me fro we what I said is….. we are lacking in self satisfaction and true Love needed for overall growth of person …

  5. Triveni Says:

    Yes not long ago i used to think Rihana and Lady Gaga have good beats in their songs. 😦 I must admit i never tried following the head or tail of their lyrics it was just music beats the so called rocking song. But once i read a post in one of the blogs (by Peter) – western music exposed and was shocked to actually see how horrible the lyrics were. Visuals never affected me as i always felt they were some animals and never really cared except for some maybe dance steps which after a while started looking funny too. But once i realised what kind of lyrics were actually been told and how i could let myself hearing them, now even the beats of such songs (which i used luv listening to) irritates me.

  6. axinia Says:

    Rihana and Lady Gaga are using lots of Satanism symbolics, in their visual and text performance. It’ very strongly “coded” and people fall for it, unfortunately. Lady Gaga has the most viewed youtube videos ever and the biggest fan-group on Facebook – MORE THAN ANY PERSON IN THIS WORLD!!! – how can you otherwise explain that? Is she really that genious? -no, she just knows how to manipulate. A typical rakshasa, i would say.

  7. Sam Says:

    Wow Axinia I never knew that you know some Hindi or Marathi.Yeah all these people are the Anti-Christs that Jesus mentioned in the Bible.

  8. Even if I find the loud glue some consider entertaining, abusive to the ear, I am not surprised that some scientists ,specially those who use such words like antisocial (what does that scientifically mean,please…specially in a extreme social divided society admiring wealth and leading wars…something, I would like to see included in this concept.!)
    I welcome that people express their frustration about such a society, and I welcome that they use the word I who is about taking personal responsibility for the own emotions and not only a possible sign of narcissism and not hiding behind a we, who considers that the own I is a society absolutism.
    What I find much more worth a consideration, is that in many songs, the voices are artificially distorted and that some mechanics used to listen reduce the whole spectrum of sound.
    This lead to ears unable to understand subtle tonality’s, even in human communication.That might lead to conflicts through the inability to understand each other.
    Instead of mannerism dividing words into moral aspects avoiding the see the effect of a careless society on the minds of human and the hysterical use of entertainment as form of distraction from the real abuses going on, I wished that some scientists would start to have a more critical view on their own linguistic patterns who are are very easy to decrypt after all.

  9. The popularity of certain celebrity’s I highly dislike musically, are probably a symptom of marketing, mainstream conformity and a missing of culture.

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