Study: Kids Who Like ‘Unconventional Music’ More Likely to Become Delinquent

From  “Early Adolescent Music Preferences and Minor Delinquency,” in the journal Pediatrics.

OBJECTIVES: To test Music Marker Theory (MMT) positing that early adolescents’ preferences for nonmainstream types of popular music indicate concurrent and later minor delinquency.

METHODS: About 300 children in the Netherlands were followed for four years of their adolescence. The researchers conducting the study gathered information about the kids’ favorite types of music and tracked incidents of “minor delinquency” — such as shoplifting or vandalism — from the time they were 12 until they reached age 16.

RESULTS: The results showed that early fans of different types of rock (eg, rock, heavy metal, gothic, punk), African American music (rhythm and blues, hip-hop), and electronic dance music (trance, techno/hardhouse) showed elevated minor delinquency concurrently and longitudinally. Preferring conventional pop (chart pop) or highbrow music (classic music, jazz), in contrast, was not related to or was negatively related to minor delinquency.

CONCLUSIONS: Early music preferences emerged as more powerful indicators of later delinquency rather than early delinquency, indicating that music choice is a strong marker of later problem behavior.

The full study, “Early Adolescent Music Preferences and Minor Delinquency,” is published in the journal Pediatrics.