Marta Orozco


Average daily listening hours and annual sales figures give testament to the important position that music holds in the personal and social lives of individuals in contemporary cultures (Arnett, 1991; North, Hargreaves, & O’Neill, 2000; Schwartz & Fouts, 2003; Ter Bogt, Raaijmakers, Vollebergh, van Well, & Sikkema, 2003). Youth, especially, dedicate considerable amounts of time and money to music listening (Roberts, Henriksen, & Foehr, 2009). However, it has been suggested that certain music preferences and music subcultures are associated with problem behaviors and/or internalizing distress in youth, particularly females (Miranda & Claes, 2008, 2009; Selfhout, Delsing, Ter Bogt, & Meeus, 2008). Specifically, the emo music subculture has typically been associated with themes of depression, self-injury, and suicide (Porretta, 2007; Sands, 2006; Shafron & Karno, 2013). As a result, this study sought to contribute to the need for research in this area by exploring the role of music in the psychological functioning of adolescents and emerging adult females. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to gain a greater understanding of the experiences and conceptualizations of music in relationship to emotional processes, identity development, and self-concept among young adult females who listen to music that has been commonly labeled as emo. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 8 women ranging in age from who reported listening to music considered to be emo. Results indicated several themes related to mood, self, and others. With regard to mood, 4 subthemes arose: emotion related coping, music as an emotional trigger, catharsis, and empowerment- hope. In terms of themes related to the self, participants reported being able to feel a personal connection to the music, and most shared that emo music helped them feel accepted and understood. Finally, with regard to themes related to others, results indicated that the participants tended to experience some form of negative attention due to their involvement in this subculture, though they also reported having been able to form social bonds because of their music preferences. Potential contributions include adding to the literature on music preference and its relationship to young adult mood and identity development. In addition, the study provides information relevant to individuals involved in the emo subculture that has potential implications for intervention with this population.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Music and youth -- Psychological aspects; Young women -- Psychology; Emo (Music) -- Social aspects

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Harrell, Shelly P.;