A new study conducted by the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology has found that listening to extreme music like heavy metal can help people process anger and even increase their positive emotions, like inspiration.
Thirty-nine people aged 18 through 34 took part in the study. They were angered (by being asked to recall situations that made them angry in the past) and were then tasked with either listening to metal music of their own choosing or to sit in silence. The study found that contrary to popular belief, when extreme music fans listen to that music while angry their anger is not increased, in fact it is decreased while at the same time several positive emotions are increased.
research article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers Leah Sharman and Dr. Genevieve A. Dingle reported, “The findings indicate that extreme music did not make angry participants angrier; rather, it appeared to match their physiological arousal and result in an increase in positive emotions. Listening to extreme music may represent a healthy way of processing anger for these listeners.”
When speaking with the University of Queensland’s website, Sharman explained, “When experiencing anger, extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger. The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired. Results 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.”
Some of the songs picked by the participants that helped soothe them during the study included Metallica‘s “Master of Puppets,” Five Finger Death Punch’s “100 Ways to Hate,” A Day to Remember’s “Violence,” System of a Down’s “Attack,” Meshuggah’s “Pravus” and Escape the Fate’s Live Fast Die Beautiful.” All in all 46 songs were used by the 39 participants.