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The extreme music listeners in the study "reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love, and enhance their well-being," says Leah Sharman. (Credit: opethpainter/Flickr)

anger

How heavy metal music soothes and inspires

Extreme music, such as heavy metal, can positively influence people who are feeling angry, new research reveals.

In contrast to previous studies linking loud and chaotic music to aggression and delinquency, the study shows listeners mostly became inspired and calmed.

“We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions,” says Leah Sharman, an honors student in the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology who worked with lecturer Genevieve Dingle.

“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,” explains Sharman.

“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.”

The study, published in in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, involved 39 regular listeners of extreme music, aged 18-34 years.

Participants were monitored during a baseline period, after a 16-minute “anger induction.” They then spent 10 minutes listening to songs of their choice, or 10 minutes of silence, and were monitored once more.

The “anger induction” involved the interviewees describing angering events in their life, with prompts around relationships, employment, and finances.

While the majority (74 percent) of participants were Australian-born, the remainder were born in locations as diverse as Oman, Sweden, Indonesia, South Africa, New Caledonia, New Zealand, and the US.

“A secondary aim for the study was to see what music angry participants would select from their playlist,” Sharman says. “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.

“Yet participants reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love, and enhance their well-being. All of the responses indicated that extreme music listeners appear to use their choice of music for positive self-regulatory purposes.”

Source: University of Queensland

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