Billboard Hot 100 Songs: Self-Promoting Over the Past 20 Years

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Research suggests that an increase in narcissism and individualism in contemporary Western society corresponds with greater self-focus depicted in cultural products (Morling & Lamoreaux, 2008). However, little attention has been given to popular music within this context (DeWall, Pond, Campbell, & Twenge, 2011). The current study examines changes in self-promotion (e.g., references to self, bragging, demands for respect), and the sociodemographic characteristics of both artists and audiences as they relate to self-promoting tendencies in popular music. Data were obtained using Billboard Hot 100 songs for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010. The most popular music in 2010 contained significantly more types of self-promotion than music from previous decades. This change reflects characteristics of genres (e.g., rap/hip-hop, pop, dance) that have gained popularity among younger audiences, but also corresponds to larger societal changes in individualism. Songs by male artists and African American artists were more likely to contain self-promotion than those by female or Caucasian artists. These differences are considered within the context of past theory and research related to socialization across groups more generally. Implications for parents, educators, and consumers are discussed.

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