As Americans Get More Self-Centered, So Do Lyrics

Study finds increasingly narcissistic words in top 10 hits
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 1, 2011 6:08 PM CDT
In this March 27, 2011 photo, Singer Britney Spears performs on ABC's "Good Morning America" show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(Newser) – Today’s hit songs aren’t about “us”—they’re just about “me,” a study finds. Researchers examined Billboard’s top 10 songs in the US each year from 1980 to 2007, and found that “popular music lyrics now include more words related to a focus on the self,” says one. Using a word-counting program, they discovered that first-person plural pronouns like “we” and “us” were used less and less over the years; first-person singular pronouns like “I” and “me,” on the other hand, grew more common, Miller-McCune reports.

Meanwhile, the use of words tied to antisocial behavior or anger—“hate,” “kill”—increased, while words linked to social activity—“talk,” “share”—decreased. The same was true for words about positive emotions, like “love” and “nice.” It all echoes “recent evidence showing increases in US loneliness and psychopathology over time,” says a researcher. It’s also worrying, writes Tom Jacobs, when you consider recent research that says songs with antisocial messages can prompt “aggressive thoughts and hostile feelings, while those" about "peace and love can increase empathy."

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