Study: Heavy Metal Predicts Teenage Crime

A new study has found that the listening habits of 12 year olds is a reliable predictor of their teenage behaviour - and young rock fans are more likely to commit minor crimes.

Ultimate Guitar

A new study has found that people who listen to rock, hip hop or electronic music by age 12 are more likely to commit minor crimes in their mid-teens.

Those who listened to jazz and classical at an early age were found to be more likely to behave as teenagers.

However, rock isn't the only one to blame. A link was also found between teenage crime and mainstream genres like R&B and trance.

A key thing to note is that genres like rock do not specifically cause delinquent behaviour. Rather, the study finds that early listening habits merely help predict later behaviour.

The researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands were so convinced by the study that they believe music is a better indicator of teenage behaviour than their behaviour as a pre-teen.

"We were stunned ourselves," Dr. Tom ter Bogt told the Toronto Star. "We checked it over and over again."

Boys were more likely than girls to commit minor crimes as a teenager, and were found to have a stronger preference for loud music.

Is is believed that teenagers who are at odds with their parents and teachers are inclined to engage in 'sensation seeking'. This may include listening to music or taking drugs.

In turn, they seek the company of others with similar interests and strive for status in this group by competing on their consumption of music, alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, the status earned in these teenage groups is unable to serve the individual in later life.

Dr. Tom ter Bogt notes that the study focussed on a limited type of teenage behaviour, and did not consider serious adult criminal behaviour.

166 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Those who listened to jazz and classical at an early age were found to be more likely to behave as teenagers. but more likely to become psychotic serial killers when they're adults
    'Pointless Study: Let's Blame Music Genres Randomly For Social Issues' Fixed that for ya, UG.
    My Last Words
    'Pointless Study: Let's Blame Music Genres Randomly For Social Issues' - iommi600, desktop philosopher No. THIS was the official conclusion.. "[a]dolescents 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 " I sincerely hope you and the 50 other people see the difference.
    You have to forgive him and the 50 others. You can't expect the subjects of an experiment to be able to fully comprehend said experiment... People, no one is saying that music is to blame! Unfortunately statistics can be manipulated to make pretty much whatever point you want, but their assertion that music preference can be a sign of problems to come does not surprise me at all. But it's a symptom, not a cause
    My mistake, I admit that I only read the headline (I usually give up on reading further when I'm on the smartphone for some reason). Now, having read the original article, I know that the study didn't mean to say that X or Y musical genre CAUSES kids to be criminals and etc, it just established a relation between young offenders and their musical tastes. I see their point, the only thing I'm failing to get is why parents should keep an eye on their kids just because they listen to a musical genre that is linked to misbehavior, like the article suggests. I would suggest to parents if your 12-year-old child listens to very, very noisy music, rebellious music, be aware of what kinds of friends he or she brings to the house. Keeping an eye on your children... isn't that page n.1 in parenting book? EDIT: thanks for the desktop philosopher thing, maybe one day I'll give a speech to my trash bin and My Computer, like the old greeks used to do? Anyway, this study is actually way simpler than I though it was, lol.
    Except, here's the thing: the study really didn't prove anything. All it proved was that kids who listen to music commit minor crimes. Studies like this are always badly designed, which isn't really the fault of those running the studies as much as the fact that a study that seeks to examine something like this is inherently flawed. There's way too many variables to be considered when it comes to such a broad study.
    This is why you aren't a scientist. Their hypothesis isn't even that the music causes it, they actually point out that the music itself does not cause it, but is simply correlated with other behavior that causes delinquent behavior. Did you even read the article?
    I did. But see, that's the issue. They made this study and included music as a variable. Then, they were like, "Oh, this is interesting". What would have been better to point out would have been the fact that things like "parental influence and discipline" can affect a teen's probability to commit a minor crime.
    How bout "New study shows that many people confuse causation with correlation."?
    Those who listen to gangsta rap are more likely to be involved in drive-by shootings and drug deals.
    Now, now, kids. Repeat after me: "Correlation does not imply causation" The act of listening to metal doesn't make you a delinquent. There could be a common cause that makes you listen to metal and become a delinquent. In the article linked it says: I would suggest to parents if your 12-year-old child listens to very, very noisy music, rebellious music, be aware of what kinds of friends he or she brings to the house. Or you know, just do basic parenting regardless of what they listen to?
    That's right. There's just a greater chance of also being/becoming delinquent when you happen to listen to metal. I'm glad there's at least a decent amount of people that actually understand the article. So maybe there's no such relation between heavy metal and stupidity.
    crazysam23_Atax, there's not. That's the problem with studies like this. They assume that music is something to be thrown into the mix, when it's not.
    It's looking at correlation. It's saying that those types of music tend to be listened to by criminals. They aren't "throwing music into the mix" - they're pulling it out and noting that the two appear to have some form of link.
    "It's saying that those types of music tend to be listened to by criminals." Since most criminals listen to same music as you and I, I imagine, that statement is useless. That's like saying, "Criminals like pizza". Well, so do 99% of Westerners. /shrug
    Not really. I don't tend to listen to any rap or hip-hop, etc, if I can possibly avoid it. What do you want, for them to provide specific bands/musicians? And the whole "100% of people who drink water..." rubbish doesn't apply. That's clearly misunderstanding. There's absolutely no parallel. It's more like saying "criminals like these specific types of toppings on their pizza, or demand that the pizza is delivered within 20 minutes" kind of thing.
    The article discusses this point: "A key thing to note is that genres like rock do not specifically cause delinquent behaviour. Rather, the study finds that early listening habits merely help predict later behaviour."
    Except the early listening habits merely help predict later behavior part is just wrong. Why? Because that can be more clearly explained by thing like bad parenting. If your kid is rebellious or undisciplined, it's probably because you never did the basic parenting.
    I agree that bad parenting is a more likely cause of committing crimes, but you just don't get it. The genre helps predict. Listening to a particular genre won't cause you to commit crimes, just like playing a video game won't cause you to murder. It's saying the two have correlation. That they generally go together. It doesn't say much more than that. It doesn't look at the causes.
    No, it doesn't help predict. It doesn't predict anything. Until someone gives me actual proof, I'm going to continue holding to that statement.
    Oh, and what does help predict? Perhaps an existing criminal record? But then have already committed crimes so it's not predicting anything... Would being a member of a gang which is known to be violent convince you? Or are you simply trolling us?
    We actually have someone who actually knows their statistics, fancy that!
    In the UK, the rock crowd generally are rather peaceful compared to all the chavs who listen to RnB and Hip Hop and go out looking for trouble all the time they're on the streets
    Same in Hungary, only exception is for (neo-nazi) skinheads. In the rock/metal scene here, the hardest durg is marihuana (which illegality is hilarious after you know it's effects), I never heard anything harder. But those more mainstream guys tends to use speed and simmilar synthetics. Also rock/metal people tends to attend more likely to higher education.
    So listening to popular genres of music make you more likely to commit crimes than listening to specialised genres. A larger number of people listen to those genres, so of course more crimes will be committed by that group. I don't understand how so many of these studies continue to be carried out.
    No offence, but I don't think that's how studies like these work. I don't know for sure, but they probably look at PERCENTAGES from each group that commit crime rather than absolute numbers. To compare percentages is perfectly valid and I'm sure a study like this would have to have statistically significant results before making statements like this.
    Except for the fact that it does not take into consideration how your preferences were formed. For instance, most parents that would introduce their kids to classical music would probably be from demographics that are less prone to crime. That said, this is an interesting indicator. We should remember that correlation does not necessarily prove causation, but I think the article explained that pretty well.
    I think it more suggests (or should suggest) that the kind of people who commit minor crimes in their youth are likely to listen to those types of music. Not the other way around. That said, they appear to have spent time and money to just prove what common sense already knows - people in gangs, delinquents and suchlike like to rap, hip-hop etc. Not really amazing findings, but good evidence.
    I never commented on causation, only that the evidence of a correlation must come from percentages and not absolute numbers.
    If you take a look at the article something becomes very apparent, and i hope people take note of this because it happens a lot in journalism. Read carefully, the report is a representation of musical interest and it's correlation with crime. (the first paragraph) At no point does the study indicate a cause for the statistics, no conclusions are drawn on why crime is present, only that their is a direct relation between early musical interest and later petty crime rates. The person writing the article drew a conclusion regarding the statistics that have been published, and that's what we are disagreeing with. My point is the so called "statement" you are talking about is made by someone who drew a conclusion regarding the results of the study, this person was biased and drew a conclusion based on their own beliefs rather than actual logic's. For he/she portrayed rock/rnb/trance as in the wrong when people choose music that reflects their personality rather than being influenced by music into becoming who they are on a social level.
    The statement I was referring to was that there was a correlation (although never explicitly said in the article). The study must have brought up statistically significant results for the correlation to be true. I do see your point, and the article does actually say "rock isn't the only one to blame". So I see your point that the article shown here seems to assume some causality, but my point was that the study will have to have enough evidence to show a correlation. I hope that was clear.
    Anyone who is confused or has comments about the study design can read the full paper here: html I notice a lot of people are criticizing the findings - but to be fair, UG's summary is very short and links to an article which discusses the study as if it has found a CAUSAL LINK. It has not found such a link, nor did it attempt to. (I'm posting this as a reply to the first comment because I think it's important that people know the full paper is available online)
    Ok, I'm glad you mentioned that about the casual link. Makes the study sound a whole lot more respectable.
    We all know what happen if someone listens to one direction in teen-ages.
    "rock, hip hop or electronic music" Basically the genres 99% of teens listen to. News title is misleading, btw.
    If anything, the study should have said "teenagers who listen to classical and jazz music are less likely to commit crimes" and left their conclusion at that. And then you would need to look at the average demographic of teenagers who listen to classical and jazz. Really doesn't say much if you ask me
    I didn't read anything that had to do with metal... Except for the title.
    I beg to disagree. Though there was no direct mention of the genre, paragraph no. 7 indirectly mentions it. Metal always wins the loudness war.. It is meant to be loud. \m/
    I'm 23 years old and I've killed like a thousand ants while listening to Links 2 3 4 - Rammstein... I'm dangerous bitches, watch out!!
    SPURIOUS CORRELATION alert!!! Far more likely scenario: Kids who listen to jazz and classical music are probably more sheltered by their parents or live in a more affluent area, and are not aloud to listen to music that "causes crime". And perhaps, just perhaps you should look at pre-existing conditions of the human brain and social environment lead into the music style people choose, and not look at music styles affecting peoples behavior and criminal history.
    Scott O
    Beavis and Butthead listened to metal and they seemed pretty normal, right?
    i don't know what to say about this but in the word of ac/dc.....for those who about to rock, we salute you
    Another study showed that 100% of criminals have at some point in their lives inhaled Oxygen. Maybe there's a connection? See, I can provide useless statistics and correlations too.
    "Those who listened to jazz and classical at an early age were found to be more likely to behave as teenagers. " Ha... and what's the standard for teenage behavior these days? It used to be rebellious and perverted as their bodies got used to the new hormone balance, but i guess the times are a changing. I just wish they used more specific terminology. I mean, isn't it ****ing obvious that a person's interest in movies/music/games is a reflection of their personality? I know for a fact that people listen to rough music when they are rough people, but that's not because they fit the music, it's because the music fits them. They chose to listen to it, they weren't forced to.
    Darkness in Zero
    Title states "Heavy Metal Predicts Teenage Crime" The genre "Metal" is one of the only genres NOT listed in article. Good reporting, as always, UG
    Classical music could also turn you into a corrupt DEA agent. "You don't like Beethoven. You don't know what you're missing. Overtures like that get my... juices flowing. So powerful. But after his openings, to be honest, he does tend to get a little f*****g boring. That's why I stopped!" Gary Oldman in Leon: The Professional
    The bottom line is, as it even says in the article, music is not a cause of deliquent behavoir. Teens who engage in deliquent behavoir have some aspect of their style of music which they identify with; the music does not make them act deliquent. Before I found metal as a kid, I had the same negative and false stereotypical views towards it as society, but then when I actually heard metal for the first time, I was shocked to realize that I actually liked it. Therefore, there was already some aspect of my being that liked heavy metal without my knowledge of it. Now I can't gi a day without listening to metal, and I've never commited a crime in my life. I'm sure there are many others who've had similar experiences. Thus, music does not cause one to act a certain way or to commit crimes, but some aspect of it can be identified with by teens who engage in deliquent behavior, meaning that the nature of a type of music may help to (although not perfectly, as in my case) predict a teen's future behavior. You have to take into account that there are outliers in every set of data, especially data in experiments like these. That doesn't mean that the experiment is "bad" per se, it just means that the findings are mere generalities for the majority of the data. For me, personally, the whole time while reading the article, I thought, "Well, duh. They actaually researched this?" Interesting, nonetheless. And even though I love metal as much as I do, I think we all can agree that classical music is associated with less crime and that it is (there's no denying this) the most important genre of music ever, as it laid the foundations of music to come.
    Also evidence of it improving sleep, productivity, mental ability, etc. The thing is, a lot of good metal has similar aspects (rhythms, melodies, etc). So different types of music can provide the same effect. Anyway, classical music is probably the least associated with crime.
    It never even says Heavy Metal in the article.
    My Last Words
    Don't read this on UG, if you want real info, check out the source: "The study followed 149 boys and 160 girls from age 12 for four years. It found 12-year-olds with strong preferences for hip-hop, heavy metal, gothic and trance music got in trouble at age 12 and at age 16."
    "Boys were more likely than girls to commit minor crimes as a teenager, and were found to have a stronger preference for loud music." They spent money to come to that conclusion?!
    Clearly that wasn't the focus of the research... it was just demographic info that they included for the sake of completeness. What UG chose to add in their summary - well, I can't speak for that.
    Obviously. I just like mocking a lot of this "modern" research because a lot of studies come to very general, common sense conclusions. I'm also confused as to why you're making it your personal mission to defend the study.
    Study: people who listen to music commit crimes. These people also watch tv, read books, and eat food
    That is not what it said. It said there's a pattern, "correlation". It's not saying all people who listen to rap or metal will go and commit a crime, it's saying some people may be more likely to. Please try to understand what the article says before writing something stupid.
    I'm kind of, and by kind of I mean VERY, sick of the media blaming heavy metal for issues in which they have no influence over. It is the person's choice to act the way they do; THE MUSIC DOES NOT GOVERN THAT. At all. Why can't we use this on country and make a generalization that when country songs solely talk about drinking beer and mudding in a Chevy vs. Ford onslaught with girls in short-cut jeans, those who listen to it are raging alcoholic hillbillies with a DUI or two? It's such bullshit the way metal is looked down upon by society, but that's what's always driven it to persist. It won't ever go away. If someone wants to go kill somebody or steal something from them or whatever, then they already had the intentions of doing it. Heavy metal isn't to blame. You know what predicts teenage crime? Being bullied, being neglected at home, and just a bad home life and lack of friends throughout childhood. THAT has been proven over and over again. Go home, media. You're drunk as shit.
    I don't think you read the article. Prediction=/=cause. Someone's taste in things as well as what social group they fit into is reflective of their personality. Basically people listen to something that reflects their personality, the music doesn't necessarily influence them and the article didn't say it did.
    Is is believed that teenagers who are at odds with their parents and teachers are inclined to engage in 'sensation seeking'. This may include listening to music or taking drugs. So by being at odds, THAT makes them listen to music? Or the music makes them have issues? Which is it? Name one person in this world who hasn't retreated to music or found a song that they had a connection to when having a bad time. I'm a strong advocate that music, whether it be classical, country, pop or death metal has a powerful impact on people. But this study has proven next to nothing or they at least haven't explained their findings properly.
    It's more than UG haven't given us a link to the actual findings so we don't know what they meant to study, and what the final results were. We have a rather incomplete picture to go on.
    Don't get too rowdy about it and think about the issue pointed out. What I read there is that minor criminal teenagers tend to listen to X type of music, in this case they point at everything but classic and jazz. The point of music relation with people is that it speaks of what you feel or live, but music is not the source of these crimes. Indeed, the lacks in social support might be where the problem comes from.
    How about the fact that kids who listen to metal tend to be poorer than kids who got into Classical music because their rich parents like it and can afford to get them lessons. When you're talked down to and treated like a second class citizen all your life, I don't blame you for lashing out.
    "In turn, they seek the company of others with similar interests and strive for status in this group by competing on their consumption of music, alcohol or drugs." This is what David Attenborough at a high school house party sounds like.
    Other studies suggest metal heads are intelligent - not Pantera and Metallica fans - metal heads. This article is entirely pointless and I feel it was posted just to start arguments. Where did my edit go??? I wanted to add, the media are as much to blame as whatever they point their finger at. With their constant negative storys, propaganda and tabloid-sque bs.
    "not Pantera and Metallica fans - metal heads." I'm sorry, but what the f*ck was that supposed to mean? Do you think Pantera and Metallica aren't metal, or what?
    Also I want to mention that minor crime is pretty vague. It can mean a multitude of things including writing your name in the bathroom because you think you're rebelling. It is more likely that a kid into rock or hip hop will do that than it is that a kid into classical will do that. that doesn't mean it's the cause. It's the personality type, and the kid chose to listen to what reflected their personality type. Basically: Kid is rebellious > thinks he'll be rebellious by listening to punk, or "punk" > proceeds to run around tipping over dumpsters and writing his name in bathrooms thinking he's SMASHIN TEH SYSTEM. That's the gist of this article, for those of you that still don't get it.
    Those who listened to jazz and classical at an early age were found to be more likely to be... Bullied mercilessly by those kids who listened to Rock and RnB and rightly so...
    You just made the delinquent behavior more believable with your ridiculous comment. There's nothing wrong with Jazz guitar, Lots of early rock n roll was influenced by jazz. And metal has evolved from said rock n roll. Jazz, therefore, indirectly started metal. Or at the very least, has influenced metal.
    That's horseshit in my opinion. I've been listening to heavy metal and hard rock since I was about 10 years old if not sooner and I don't have a strong desire to break the law...yet... But then again...:
    The article does not say that music makes you commit crimes. Rather, it claims that the type of music you prefer and choose to listen to is an indicator of how likely you are to commit crimes. It's like, if you choose to seek out hip-hop songs where people rap about committing crimes, then you've proven that you already have a desire to commit crimes since you have intentionally sought out the song. The same could be said for bands like Cannibal Corpse and Carcass. Jazz and classical music on the other hand, usually doesn't have any lyrics and therefore a person seeking out these types of music would have no prior 'connection' to it other than the fact that they like/play music. It makes sense if you think about it.
    I would say that it has more to do with socioeconomics than anything to do with choosing a song. Poorer families are less likely to listen to jazz and classical, since they're less accessible and higher culture. Poorer families are also more likely to commit crime. It's correlation, not causation. There is really nothing to gain from this study here.
    They aren't any less accessible. Can hear them on the radio, find them online, pick up albums and songs as cheaply and readily as any other mainstream music. If people don't won't listen because they still think it's above them, surely that's their own fault, and probably more likely some of the reason it is those sorts of people who commit crimes? And it's more specific than poor families - more poor families in poor neighbourhoods/districts with gangs, or who have never been brought up properly. The article never mentioned the causes, it's an interesting correlation, so what were you hoping to gain?
    "Rather, it claims that the type of music you prefer and choose to listen to is an indicator of how likely you are to commit crimes." Yeah, except saying that it's an indicator is bullshit. A much better indicator is, as I've been saying, whether the teen was disciplined and taught good behavior by their parents, both as a teen and when they were younger.
    You, sir, don't seem to understand the purpose of studies like this. To say that A is an indicator of B is NOT to say that A causes B. The present study, at the most, is suggesting that there exists some link between musical preferences and rebellious behaviour. In no way is the study claiming that musical preferences are the BEST predictor of behaviour (as you seem to have inferred), nor is it suggesting musical preferences are the ONLY predictor of behaviour. Correlational studies do not make any claims regarding the avenue through which two events are linked. For example, it could be the case that parenting styles influence musical choices, which in turn influence rebelliousness. It could (and this is more likely) be the case that parenting styles and musical choices both influence rebelliousness in their own ways. My point is that this study, a correlational study, makes no qualms about what is causing what - it simply points out when two things are linked. Unfortunately, people such as yourself, along with most mainstream news outlets, interpret "there's a statistically significant correlation between A and B" as "HOLY SHIT, HERE'S PROOF THAT A CAUSES B!". A primary purpose of correlational studies is to find links between variables for more controlled laboratory testing, in which some degree of causation can be inferred.
    I can completely agree with you. This study just suggests that musical tastes can play a (somewhat minor) part in rebellious behavior. Though there is a correlation between the two, it doesn't mean A directly causes B. Unfortunately, most UGers and other "keyboard warriors" are too dumb to comprehend these kinds of studies, yet they are the same people who think they're some kind of genius. sorry for the rant xD
    I never said that A causes B, you just assumed that I did. I simply said that the type of music a person chooses to listen to could be considered an indicator of what kind of person they are, and what kind of things they are likely to do. For instance, in the sixties people were more likely to participate in peace marches if they listened to protest songs because they chose to listen to protest songs.
    And how exactly do you propose measuring how well someone was brought up? I'd like to hear you explain that. Surely you'd have to look at their actions and mentality and behaviour, which probably includes things like what music they listen to. So, it is an *indicator* - it doesn't mean someone will do something, it suggests they are more likely than someone else with a different result on that indicator test.
    i think i'm speaking in behalf of 99% of people reading this article. i've listened to rock (or metal and also a fair bit of hip hop too) in one form or another for the last 10 years and no doubt some of you will have been listening far longer than myself. not once have i committed a crime, no matter how small and not once have i ever considered committing a crime. this is just the media having another jab at music that doesn't fit the mainstream.
    Except a shit ton of metal is mainstream. Also, someone's taste in music can be an indicator as to how they behave, and what ideals they have. It's not really something that takes a study to understand. It's not saying the music will cause you to commit crimes. Predict=/=cause.
    "A new study has found that people who listen to rock, hip hop or electronic music by age 12 are more likely to commit minor crimes in their mid-teens." So... teenagers will continue to be teenagers, just like they have been for the last seven decades? Thanks for the heads up, Netherlands.
    Committing crimes isn't part of being a teenager. So I'm guessing you are probably one of the sorts of people the article mentions, who would commit crimes and find it funny?
    This is just hate against metal. If you would do the same research, but then between skin-color and crime everybody would say: That's racist!!!
    I assume you therefore have a definite opinion about which races commit the most crimes? It would not be racist to state the percentage of each race. It is merely a statistic. Statistics do not offend, they merely show information about a population parameter. It is the individual who interprets it who can cause offense.
    No they wouldn't... because the U.S. Census Bureau publishes that information every year.
    Darth Wader
    Listening to Jazz and Classical music makes me wanna cause bodily harm to others around me. That's all I'm saying
    Well I hate these types of studies but ask yourself this question: If you were to ask inmates what their favorite type of music is do you really think it would be jazz or classical? Of course you can pretty much draw a correlation to anything these days.
    A new study has found that people who listen to rock, hip hop or electronic music by age 12 are more likely to commit minor crimes in their mid-teens. Those who listened to jazz and classical at an early age were found to be more likely to behave as teenagers . Sooooo....committing minor crimes.
    Michael Stewart
    All of my metal friends are straight edge and a minor crime would be a huge shock. Rappers and gangster thug idiots always do drugs, major crimes and are very sexually active and it's okay because that's normal but when one rocker or metalhead does one thing, the whole genre is doomed.
    What the hell are you talking about? Hip hop gets criticized for that sort of thing far more often than rock or metal at this point.
    A liberal wrote this for sure.
    this is the ****ing stupidest thing i've ever read. they actually think music CAUSES teenagers TEENAGERS FOR FUCK'S SAKE to do stupid shit?
    My Last Words
    Go back to school, kid.
    i am right now. this study is absolutely ludacrous. you can't predict if someone's going to commit minor crimes just by the music they listen to. it's about surroundings and social influence, the way kids are raised.
    The study does not claim that musical choices CAUSE criminal behaviour... only that the two are linked in some way . There's a huge difference.