Headbang the Pain Away: Study Explores the Calming Effects of Metal

Headbang the Pain Away: Study Explores the Calming Effects of Metal
It's been said that music soothes the savage beast, and now a new study is suggesting metal music can be just as calming for headbangers.

Members of the School of Psychology at Brisbane's the University of Queensland recently conducted a study on metal music, which suggests that fans are calmed by the sonically aggressive genre.

Leah Sharman and Dr. Genevieve Dingle penned the study called "Extreme Metal Music and Anger Processing," which was published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience and examined "the potential benefits of extreme music listening." It theorizes that heavy music can help regulate feelings of anger and sadness — at least if you're a metal fan.

The sample for the study included 39 participants between the ages of 18 and 34, 72 percent of whom were male. Three-quarters of the sample were born in Australia, while the remainder of the participants were from New Zealand, the U.S., New Caledonia, South Africa, Indonesia, Sweden, and Oman. All participants recruited for the study were fans of heavy music genres, including heavy metal, punk, hardcore and screamo.

The test started with participants enduring a 16-minute "anger induction" period, which asked them to detail angering moments of their lives, including discussions on their personal relationships and financial standings. Following this, the participants either spent 10 minutes listening to songs of their choice, or 10 minutes of silence, and were monitored once more. According to the study, those that listened to the music had their anger balanced out by the music.

"We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions," Sharman said. "When experiencing anger, extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger."

Sharman added that "[r]esults showed levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased after music was introduced, and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt."

Considering the small sample size, it was concluded that "the results refute the notion that extreme music causes anger but further research is required to replicate these findings in naturalistic social contexts, and to investigate the potential contributions of individual listener variables on this relationship between extreme music listening and anger processing."

You can read the full study here.