Morbid curiosity for music containing violent themes

Merrick Powell*, Kirk N. Olsen, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Research suggests that engagement with music containing violent themes (e.g., extreme metal, rap) often results in positive psychosocial outcomes for fans. However, it is not clear why fans are attracted to ‘violent’ music in the first place. Experiment 1 (N = 146) examined whether trait morbid curiosity is associated with fans' self-reported consumption of music containing violent themes. Experiment 2 (N = 96) presented short excerpts of extreme metal and rap music with or without violent themes to investigate whether individual differences in morbid curiosity predict listeners' curiosity towards, enjoyment of, and desire to further engage with novel music with violent themes. Both experiments supported predictions: (1) fans of violently themed music exhibited greater morbid curiosity than fans of non-violently themed music; (2) morbid curiosity significantly predicted the consumption and enjoyment of music containing violent themes; (3) fans and non-fans' intentions to further engage with novel music containing violent themes were significantly predicted by individual differences in the prevalence and magnitude of morbid curiosity. Findings suggest that trait morbid curiosity is an important factor in fans' initial motivation to listen to and subsequently enjoy music containing violent themes. Implications for theories describing how fans derive positive psychosocial outcomes from media violence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111797
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date8 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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