Recent research has demonstrated that heavy metal music may actually improve mental health. It’s often associated with negative connotations like encouraging suicide and being the cause of mass school shootings.
The connection between heavy metal music listening and aggressive behaviors is complex. Unfortunately, self-report data tend to be correlational, making it difficult to draw causal inferences from these findings (Brummert-Lennings & Warburton, 2011).
Aggression and anger
Heavy metal music often features aggressive themes, violence and misogyny in its lyrics. This has caused concern that exposure to such music might lead to increases in anger, aggressive cognitions and antisocial behaviors.
Recent research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has demonstrated that listening to extreme music does not increase participants’ anger or aggression levels; rather, it relaxes them.
Researchers studied 39 young adults who regularly listen to “extreme” music, defined as heavy metal, punk, hardcore and emo. They wore electrodes which recorded their heart rate while participating in a 16-minute anger induction exercise. Following this, participants were assigned to a music condition where they selected songs of their choosing from their personal music device.
After this, they performed the first set of Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) tests. This was followed by a 16-minute “anger induction” where they described topics likely to cause irritation; then they listened to their chosen music for 10 minutes.
Researchers conducted an experiment in which they assessed participants’ subjective rating and heart rate of anger after each song. Additionally, they conducted another PANAS set and observed the participants’ response to a series of angry questions.
Additionally, researchers observed that those exposed to extreme music chose songs which mirrored their anger in terms of tempo and lyrics. These results suggest that listening to extreme music may enable individuals to explore emotions more fully.
Furthermore, the research team discovered that despite not measuring levels of aggression in response to songs, those exposed to extreme music had lower heart rates, suggesting they had a less angry reaction than the control group. This could have an encouraging impact on people’s mental health and self-esteem.
Researchers suggest that further investigation is necessary into this topic in order to gain a better insight into how extreme music affects those who listen. They want to determine whether fans of extreme music tend to experience higher levels of anger and aggressive tendencies than non-fans, as well as uncover why this difference exists.
Depression and anxiety
Heavy metal music has numerous benefits for people’s mental health. Not only does it reduce stress, promote feelings of happiness and lift spirits, but it has been known to lower blood pressure and raise heart rates as well.
Heavy metal has also been known to be beneficial for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety, as it helps regulate feelings of anger and fear. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that heavy metal decreases cortisol levels – which may cause fatigue or weakness.
One study revealed that people who listened to heavy metal music experienced lower levels of anxiety than those who listened to other genres or sat in silence. This finding is significant and suggests heavy metal can be an effective means for relieving stress.
Researchers from a Turkish hair transplant and rhinoplasty practice recruited 1,540 volunteers who listened to specially created playlists designed to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Additionally, participants were required to record their heart rate and blood pressure throughout the study for continuous monitoring of these parameters.
Results revealed that heavy metal was the second most effective genre to reduce anxiety levels, followed by classical music; other genres did not seem to have much of an effect on blood pressure or heart rate.
This study suggests that the negative effects of heavy metal are more due to people’s beliefs about it than any actual fault in the music itself. For instance, many non-fans believe it to be a dangerous genre and should be avoided at all costs; furthermore, many think it is inappropriate for children or young people.
Though some may disagree, most studies demonstrate that music has the power to lift our spirits and reduce feelings of stress. Furthermore, studies show that listening to this type of music actually boosts self-esteem as well.
Research is showing that music plays an increasingly significant role in people’s lives and can have profound effects on mental health and wellbeing. While some of these effects may be beneficial, others can be detrimental. Thus, it’s essential for people to comprehend the different types of music and their potential impacts on mental wellbeing.
Heavy metal music has long been considered an extreme form of art and often explores themes related to violence, death and anti-social behaviors. These concerns have caused policy makers and mental health professionals to consider whether exposure to such music might lead to problems and negative outcomes (Hines & McFerran, 2014; Rosenbaum & Prinsky, 1991).
Studies have examined whether prolonged exposure to heavy metal music can exacerbate anger. However, there is no evidence that this type of music causes fans to become more aggressive; rather, one study found that those made angry by traumatic events and then exposed to extreme music did not become more enraged but rather experienced an increase in positive emotions.
Although these results may not come as a shock, they do suggest that it is essential to comprehend the context of any research examining the effects of heavy metal music on mood. Furthermore, one must distinguish between anger and aggression.
Anger is a potent emotion that can drive many negative actions and behaviors. Aggression on the other hand is more specific, referring to specific acts of hostility or violence such as physical assault, verbal threats or self-harm.
Another study discovered that people who listened to classical or self-selected calming music after experiencing a stressor (e.g., a car accident) experienced reductions in their anxiety and anger levels. Compared with those listening to heavy metal or sitting in silence following the stressor, those listening to classical or self-selected music also demonstrated lower heart rates and respirations following the experience.
This finding is somewhat controversial, as it suggests that not everyone responds to extreme music the same way others do. However, certain types of music may be more effective at relieving anger and anxiety than others; thus, when working with students interested in this type of music study, it’s essential to know which type of music to use.
Self-esteem is a complex concept that is often affected by other people in your life. If they are positive influences, your self-esteem may rise; on the contrary, if they have an adverse effect, it may decrease.
Self-esteem is determined by your beliefs about yourself, who you are as a person, your strengths and weaknesses, expectations for the future, life experiences and culture. All these things combine to shape who you are as an individual.
Researchers have studied how heavy metal music affects people’s self-esteem and attitudes towards authority. They discovered that those who enjoyed listening had higher levels of openness to new experiences but lower levels of self-esteem and a need for uniqueness, as well as more negative attitudes toward authority figures and lower religiosity.
However, the study was limited due to its method and lack of information regarding non-fan control groups. Thus, it’s difficult to tell whether these results indicate a causal connection between music and an innate personality trait or simply reflect an interfering factor.
A similar study revealed that music can reduce negative emotions such as anger and anxiety. After a stress induction, participants who listened to classical music or their own personal “calming” music (of any genre) displayed fewer self-reported negative emotions and reduced physiological arousal during music listening. Conversely, heavy metal was heard by experimenters more frequently which incited more anger and anxiety than either of the other genres combined.
Heavy metal music may promote aggression and delinquency among young people. A longitudinal study revealed that adolescents who listened to heavy metal music with aggressive themes reported more externalizing behaviors at two separate intervals of twelve months apart. This suggests that these genres activate antisocial schemas within adolescents, leading them to engage in these types of behaviors.
Studies have also suggested that heavy metal music may lead to suicidal thoughts and intentions in teens. One such study discovered that subscriptions to a heavy metal magazine were significantly linked with suicidal thoughts and intentions among 15- to 24-year-olds, but not 25- to 34-year-olds.