Implicit violent imagery processing among fans and non-fans of music with violent themes

Yanan Sun, Xuejing Lu, Mark Williams, William Forde Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
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It is suggested that long-term exposure to violent media may decrease sensitivity to depictions of violence. However, it is unknown whether persistent exposure to music with violent themes affects implicit violent imagery processing. Using a binocular rivalry paradigm, we investigated whether the presence of violent music influences conscious awareness of violent imagery among fans and non-fans of such music. Thirty-two fans and 48 non-fans participated in the study. Violent and neutral pictures were simultaneously presented one to each eye, and participants indicated which picture they perceived (i.e. violent percept, neutral percept or blend of two) via key presses, while they heard Western popular music with lyrics that expressed happiness or Western extreme metal music with lyrics that expressed violence. We found both fans and non-fans of violent music exhibited a general negativity bias for violent imagery over neutral imagery regardless of the music genres. For non-fans, this bias was stronger while listening to music that expressed violence than while listening to music that expressed happiness. For fans of violent music, however, the bias was the same while listening to music that expressed either violence or happiness. We discussed these results in view of current debates on the impact of violent media.
Original languageEnglish
Article number181580
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019


Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • violent media
  • binocular rivalry
  • fans of violent music
  • implicit process
  • violent imagery

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