Researcher Dr Genevieve Dingle and a University of Queensland, Australia, School of Psychology student Leah Sharman published their “Extreme Metal Music and Anger Processing” study in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal. They found that loud extreme music (including metal, emo, punk, death metal, and screamo) might actually help calm angry listeners.
The study included thirty-nine extreme music lovers (ages 18-34) – three-fourths native Australians and one-fourth from countries around the world. As their heart rates were monitored, the participants were asked to describe a frustrating situation (relationship, finance, or work) for a period of 16 minutes. Their heart rates were recorded to establish a comparison baseline.
After what the researchers labelled the ‘anger induction’ period, the music lovers were divided into two groups. One group had been told in advance of the study to bring some extreme music of their choice on a personal listening device. Researchers state in the study that half the music “had angry or aggressive themes, while the rest had “sad or isolationist subject matter.” For ten minutes after the ‘anger induction’ period, one group listened to music while the other sat in silence.
“We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions,” Sharman stated in an article in The Huffington Post. “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.”
While the study population was limited to people who were fans of extreme music in controlled conditions in a lab, the researchers believe the results still warrant further investigation in more natural settings. The goal would be to determine if the same relationship exists between extreme music listening and anger processing outside the lab.