Heavy Metal Increases Positive Emotions & Reduces Stress, Australian Study Finds

Written by Tom Williams on 22nd June, 2015

Heavy Metal Increases Positive Emotions & Reduces Stress, Australian Study Finds

In need of some chill-out time or hoping to become the master of your emotions? A new study by The University of Queensland has found that extreme music such as heavy metal can reduce stress, increase positive emotions and even regulate sadness and anger.

A research paper by The University of Queensland School of Psychology honours students Leah Sharman and Dr Genevieve Dingle, titled “Extreme metal music and anger processing”, has found that listeners of extreme music were inspired and calmed by their tunes, which conflicts with findings from previous studies that linked loud music with aggression and delinquency.

“When experiencing anger, extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger,” Ms Sharman has said. “The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired.”

Ms Sharman and Dr Dingle’s study involved 39 subjects aged 18-24 who regularly enjoy “extreme music”. The participants were monitored after a 16-minute “anger induction” session during which they described angering events in their lives, before spending 10 minutes listening to songs of their choice, followed by 10 minutes of silence.

Monitoring of the subjects showed that levels of irritability, hostility and stress decreased after the extreme music was introduced, and that the subjects saw a significant increase in the level of inspiration they felt.

So what were the participants listening to? According to an analysis of their selected tracks, there were various metal sub-genres as well as pop-punk and post-hardcore, including bands like Parkway Drive, Slipknot, Metallica, Judas Priest, System Of A Down and Manowar. The full list of tracks can be viewed below.

“It was interesting that half of the chosen songs contained themes of anger or aggression, with the remainder containing themes like – though not limited to – isolation and sadness,” Ms Sharman said.

“Yet participants reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love and enhance their well-being.”

Ms Sharman and Dr Dingle’s “Extreme metal music and anger processing” research paper can be read in full at the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience website.

Previous studies into heavy metal music have shown that listeners are more prone to anxiety and depression but are also the “most loyal” fans in the music world.

Watch: Parkway Drive – Dark Days

Analysis of the music participants played when angry (Via Frontiers In Human Neuroscience)

metal psychology study 2015 via frontiers in human neuroscience website


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