Is ‘Ominous’ Music Putting Shark Population at Risk?

Photo by Martin Prochazkacz / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever seen a shark documentary — or even simply watched “Jaws” — you know that ominous music often accompanies images of the predator as it swims across the screen.

Now, researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego say such music negatively impacts how viewers perceive sharks. And they worry that such negative connotations might hinder efforts to protect the species.

Researchers asked more than 2,000 participants to watch a 60-second video of sharks swimming. As the video rolled, viewers were exposed to one of three types of audio tracks:

  • Ominous music
  • Uplifting music
  • Silence

Viewers who heard the ominous background music rated the sharks particularly negatively, according to the study findings published in the journal Plos One.

While those results seem harmless enough, the researchers stressed that such negative emotions can be transferred to perceptions about sharks themselves, potentially hindering conservation efforts.

They warn that both documentary filmmakers and viewers should be aware of how the choice of a soundtrack impacts perceptions of education content. They also urge producers of news packages and curators of shark exhibits to keep such effects in mind:

Filmmakers, journalists, and exhibit designers set the tone of their works, and, while an ominous soundtrack may enhance their entertainment aspect, it may also undermine their educational value by biasing viewers’ perceptions of sharks.

The world’s shark population has plunged dramatically in recent years. Up to one-quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction.

What is your opinion of sharks? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself
10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself

Making any of these key foods yourself will improve meals — and your budget.

5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts
5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts

These discounts may save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year.

Not Asking About This in the Hospital Can Cost You Thousands
Not Asking About This in the Hospital Can Cost You Thousands

Medicare recipients who fail to clarify their hospital status can pay a high price.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.