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A new study has found that listening to mainstream rock music from artists such as Bruce Springsteen and the White Stripes made white students more apt to look out for the interests of other whites rather those of blacks and Latinos.

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However, white students who listened to Top 40 pop acts like Gwen Stefani or Akon were more likely to be fairer to other ethnic groups, according to a Daily Mail article about the study published in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media‘s March 2012 issue.

Researchers tested nearly 150 students by having them listen to different genres then asking them questions on how funds should be distributed in college between a range of ethnic-based groups.

The findings showed that because rock is associated with white people, white listeners unconsciously favored their own race after listening. During the study, the students recommended that money be doled out mostly to other white students. When they listened to more pop songs from artists like Fergie, the students divided money more equitably between whites, blacks and Latinos.

Heather LaMarre, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Minnestoa, explained the results.

“Rock music is generally associated with white Americans, so we believe it cues white listeners to think about their positive association with their own in-group. That was enough for them to show more support for a student group representing mostly whites.”

Associate professor Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, who also worked on the study, explained further:

“Music has a lot of power to influence our thoughts and actions, more than we often recognize. It has the power to reinforce our positive biases toward our own group, and sometimes negative biases toward others.”

Read more here.

Do you agree with the study’s findings? Does listening to rock music make whites racist? Let us know what you think in the comments.


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Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog