Purpose: Adults have frequently been concerned about the adverse influence that music may have on teenagers. This study was designed to examine the relationship between the intensity of emotional response to music and health risk-taking behavior in adolescents.
Methods: Consecutive participants from the University of California, San Diego, Adolescent Medicine Clinics completed a written survey about music preference, emotional response to music using the Positive Affect Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and a variety of health-risk behaviors. For each participant, the PANAS scores were summed to give a positive, negative, and total affect score, and health-risk behaviors were assigned a point value based on the level of risk and then summed to give a risk score.
Results: Health-risk behavior was found to be correlated with increasing emotional response to music (r = 0.23), whether those emotions were positive (r = 0.19) or negative (r = 0.24). Strong negative emotional response to music in particular was correlated with a history of greater risk behavior, particularly among whites (risk score = 14.0).
Conclusions: Our study indicates that subjects who experience strong negative emotions to music are at an increased risk of participating in a variety of risk-taking behaviors. Further evaluation of the link between emotional response to music and health-risk behaviors will be useful in clarifying the nature of this relationship.