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Can Art Influence Behavior?

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Jessica Long

on 18 June 2013

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Transcript of Can Art Influence Behavior?

Can Art Influence Behavior?
Real Life Example: Columbine Shooting
This is What Marilyn Manson had to say about the shooting...
Emotion vs. Behavior
There is no doubt that music has an effect on your emotions. There is also a link between your emotions and your behavior so hypothetically there is a link between music and your behavior but is the correlation strong enough to say that music can really influence your behavior?

You are what you surround yourself with. Music is definitely incorporated into that, but so are your friends, your parents, what your teachers say, what you see on TV... all of those things influence what you do and how you behave. As seen in the Mozart effect and in music therapy, music can influence your brain in a way we have yet to fully understand. But what we do understand is that music has a profound impact on our bodies. It can induce an emotional reaction and a physiological reaction. Music does influence an aspect of our behavior, but we still have free will and the ability to choose our actions. Music is a universal language that every human, any age and race, can connect to, in one form or another.
On Tuesday April 20th, 1999 two students embarked on a killing spree at columbine High School. It was revealed That the two kids listened to Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson was then scapegoated for the massacre because of his dark music by the grief stricken public who did not know who to blame. Is it possible that art forms such as music can have a such a drastic influence on behavior?
"The Two by-products of that whole tragedy were, violence in entertainment, and gun control. And how perfect that that was the two things that we were going to talk about with the upcoming election. And also, then we forgot about Monica Lewinsky and we forgot about, uh, the President was shooting bombs overseas, yet I'm a bad guy because I, well I sing some rock-and-roll songs, and who's a bigger influence, the President or Marilyn Manson? I'd like to think me, but I'm going to go with the President. "
"I definitely understand why they would pick me. Because they think it's easy to throw my face on TV, because in the end I'm the poster boy for fear. Because I represent what everyone is afraid of, Because I say and do what I want." - Marilyn Manson on Columbine shooting.
Is it possible for an art form to influence your behavior?

In my presentation I am going to look at both alternative opinions for the answer of this knowledge issue.
Knowledge Issue:
Listening to those two clips you can see how music influences your emotions. The first clip (Beethoven) made me personally feel sad, and very emotional but also very relaxed. The second (Descendents) made me feel more angered and "pumped up". However, neither of these pieces of music, whether angry and explicit or calming with no lyrics has the power to influence me to behave drastically out of the ordinary or make me do something I otherwise wouldn't have done.
People typically tend to scapegoat angry music as a catalyst for violence or they accuse it of desensitizing people to violence, however, people forget that music is just a series of notes. If you break down the lyrics it is just a series of words. All types of music qualify as a sequence of notes, soft peaceful music has the same amount of influence on your brain as something filled with angst and fast paced aggressive tones. It is all in the way you choose to perceive it.
The Case of Mark David Chapman.
Mark David Chapman is famous for being the man who shot and killed John Lennon. He first decided to kill John Lennon while listening to the Beatles album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". He decided on John when he looked at the album cover and chose John randomly over the other three. It was the Beatles album that was the catalyst for John Lennon's death, so why are Chapman's mental disorders and "insanity" to blame for the tragedy, while Marilyn Manson is to blame for the deaths of the kids and teacher that died in the columbine shooting?
Music cannot be to blame and should not be scapegoated for the violent and dangerous behaviors some people have (example, columbine shooters, Mark David Chapman). It is all about your sense perception and how interpret what the artist is saying. Should the artist be to blame for the way you perceive their work?
Ethics Questions
Two questions that crossed my mind while researching my knowledge issue are...
- Is the artist to blame for the negative effects of their work?

- Can the ethics of the artist affect the intentions of the viewer/listener?
Real Life Example 2: Music Therapy
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence based use of music and all of it's facets - physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual- to help maintain or improve an individuals health. It is used typically on people with, schizophrenia, Alzheimers or dementia, amnesia, depression and autism. It is also a field of scientific research.
Music Therapy with Sick Children...
Music is a core function in our brain. Our brain is primed early on to respond to and process music. Research has shown that day-old infants are able to detect differences in rhythmic patterns. Mothers across cultures and throughout time have used lullabies and rhythmic rocking to calm crying babies. From an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes language.
Music therapy works because of the way our brain and behavior respond to music. We have physiological responses to music- your heart rate increases, you get goosebumps or a shiver down your spine- that is our body responding to music. Our brain is what first processes the music. When musical input enters our central nervous system via the auditory nerve, most of the input goes to the brain for processing.
In autistic children....
The changes in behavior of autistic children who go through music therapy are incredible. In a study of 41 autistic children major improvements were shown after undergoing music therapy for only 10 months. Areas of improvement include interaction with others and attentive behavior.
Real life example 3: The Mozart effect
The Mozart effect was a set of research done with results indicating that listening to Mozart can improve your short term performance on certain mental tasks and academics.
They conducted the research by making college/university students listen to a Mozart sonata and then do a spatial-temporal task. One of the task was to mentally solve a jigsaw puzzle by rotating the pieces.

The people who listened to the Mozart before hand typically had better scores.
They also tested some of the subjects using the Stanford-Binet IQ test
What Rausher, Shaw and Ky (The scientist involved in and responsible for the research on the Mozart effect) attempt to prove are that there are pre-existing sites in the brain that respond to specific frequencies. the tests demonstrate that music can alter and improve your academic behavior. Music is sequences and patterns of notes therefore helps your brain recognize patterns.
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