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Kneer, Julia; Rieger, Diana; Frischlich, Lena; Munko, D. (2011): Goethe vs. Rammstein: Who is allowed to play with madness? The influence of musical taste on prejudice against heavy metal lyrics. In: McKinnon, Colin A.; Scott, Niall; Sollee, Kristen (eds.) : Can I play with madness? Metal, Dissonance, Madness & Alienation. Inter-Disciplinary Press. First edition. Oxford, England: Inter-Disciplinary Press.
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Abstract

As long as heavy metal music exists, it has been regarded as aggressive, depressive, and dangerous. Especially people, who do not like and listen to this kind of music seem to have prejudice against the themes of heavy metal songs. One major example is the German rock band Rammstein, whose lyrics are often judged as brutal and even right-wing extremist. What is known very well from social psychology is that prejudice influences further information processing resulting in biased judgements. Therefore, the question arises if the interpretation of lyrics might be biased, too, depending on the names of authors and subjective musical taste but not on the actual song content. Our explorative study is concerned with lyric interpretation, particularly how heavy metal lyrics are perceived depending on musical taste and author name. We presented two different excerpts from a Goethe poem and a Rammstein song. Participants were heavy metal fans and non-fans who had to read one of the poems and interpret it afterwards. Before reading, they were told that the following poem was written by Goethe respectively Rammstein. As expected, fans and non-fans of heavy metal music showed differences concerning their interpretation of lyrics according to the name of the author while actual poem content was irrelevant. Specific musical taste seems to influence the perception of lyrics according to author names resulting in judgement bias. This bias in lyric perception might be due to specific associations with heavy metal music due to prejudice against this kind of music.