Aug 22, 2006

Study Links Music With Sex

Quoted from The Week [volume 6, issue 273, page 21]:

"Researchers for the Rand Corporation conducted interviews with 1,461 adolescent volunteers over a period of three years, asking questions about music choices and how they affected kids' sex lives. They found that the teens who were bombarded with sexy lyrics and degrading portrayals of women in raunchy songs had allowed those messages to sink in. Of those who often listened to hip-hop and other explicit music, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who listened to less provocative music. Researcher Steve Martino said..."We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions, and makes them less thoughtful" about their sexual decision, Martino tells the Associated Press...17-year-old Natasha Ramsay [says] " is the music" [even though teens will try to deny it]."

Now wait just one moment here. Teens who listen to music that emphasizes sex tend to have sex sooner and more often. All right, that can be factually established. But let's look at a few more facts here. The study was conducted on teen volunteers, ages 12 to 17, via phone. The first problem arises when you ask, which ones volunteered? That can skew results. The second, and most major problem, arises when you put this into a chicken-and-egg light. Isn't it possible that the teens who are already likely to engage in sexual activity earlier listen to that type of music? From my experience among my friends, that certainly seems likely.
In other reports on this study, I've seen a few admissions of this omission, but not nearly enough - it should be mentioned in every article this report is mentioned in. A basic caution in analyzing statistics is not to mistake a cause for an effect, however much you'd like to be able to publish those results.
One article expressed disgust that teenagers would get their sex ed from explicit rap and hip-hop songs, and that only 19 percent had "good communication with a trusted adult about sex." Since when has a large percentage of kids talked freely and openly with adults about sex? It's a taboo subject in our society.
Like most things, the truth is probably a balance between cause and effect on both sides. I welcome discussion on this in the comments below, but acknowledge the other side, like so many of these articles have failed to do.

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