Music Genre Induced Driver Aggression: A Case of Media Delinquency and Risk-Promoting Popular Culture

Warren Brodsky, Dana Olivieri, Eugene Chekaluk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Few empirical studies have targeted the links between media delinquency or risk-promoting popular culture (specifically aversive music genres) with negative affective states and aggressive driving. Yet for over a decade, drivers have reported that they commit traffic violations while listening to loud fast-beat aggressive music styles. The current investigation seeks to explore aggressive driving behavior while considering the genre of music background. Most specifically, we look at aversive music styles and songs with violent lyrics. The article outlines the testimonials by drivers (N ¼ 6,058) from six recent commercially solicited surveys with drivers which demonstrate “proof of concept” for driver aggression subsequent to driving with music accompaniment. Further, the article details a study (N ¼ 50) employing a driving simulator with 30 paired music exemplars of 4 music genres. Half consisted of songs with hostile aggressive lyrics and half with neutral lyrics—both performed in the same music styles by the same artists. The results demonstrate that energetic music boosted excitement resulting in decreased lateral control, increased excursions from the lane, and an increased tendency to stray onto the hard shoulder. Drivers who were exposed to hostile music with violent content on the other hand demonstrated increased cruising speeds and a higher percentage of time exceeding speed limits. These differential effects of music on drivers can be referred to as either music-generated driver distraction or music genre induced driver aggression.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalMusic & Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Aggressive driving
  • driver anger
  • driving simulator
  • in-car music
  • music genres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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