OBJECTIVES:

To test Music Marker Theory (MMT) positing that early adolescents’ preferences for nonmainstream types of popular music indicate concurrent and later minor delinquency.

METHODS:

MMT was tested in a 4-year longitudinal study (n = 309).

RESULTS:

The results showed that early fans of different types of rock (eg, rock, heavy metal, gothic, punk), African American music (rhythm and blues, hip-hop), and electronic dance music (trance, techno/hardhouse) showed elevated minor delinquency concurrently and longitudinally. Preferring conventional pop (chart pop) or highbrow music (classic music, jazz), in contrast, was not related to or was negatively related to minor delinquency.

CONCLUSIONS:

Early music preferences emerged as more powerful indicators of later delinquency rather than early delinquency, indicating that music choice is a strong marker of later problem behavior. The mechanisms through which music preferences are linked to minor delinquency are discussed within the framework of MMT.

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