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Australas Psychiatry. 2008 Aug;16(4):284-8. doi: 10.1080/10398560701879589.

Can music preference indicate mental health status in young people?

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School of Music, The University of Queensland, Staff House Road, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia.



In the aftermath of the double suicide of two teenage girls in 2007, the media linked the themes of 'emo' music and the girls' mental state. But it is not just emo music that has been the subject of scrutiny by the media. Rap music, country, and heavy metal have also been blamed for antisocial behaviours including violence, theft, promiscuity and drug use. It remains an important research and clinical question as to whether music contributes to the acting out of behaviours described in the music lyrics or whether the preferred music represents the already existing behavioural tendencies in the subject. This paper surveys and discusses the relevant literature on music preference and adolescent music listening behaviours, and their links with adolescent mental health.


Studies have found a relationship between various genres of music and antisocial behaviours, vulnerability to suicide, and drug use. However, studies reject that music is a causal factor and suggest that music preference is more indicative of emotional vulnerability. A limited number of studies have found correlations between music preference and mental health status. More research is needed to determine whether music preferences of those with diagnosed mental health issues differ substantially from the general adolescent population.

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