Extreme music — like punk, heavy metal, death metal, emo and screamo — can actually have a positive, calming effect on anger, a surprising new study finds.
The findings may surprise those who are not regular head-bangers.
Instead of becoming aggressive, listening to chaotic music actually calmed and inspired most regular listeners to the music.
Ms Leah Sharman, the study’s first author, said:
“We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions.
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.”
People in the study were regular listeners to extreme music aged between 18 and 34.
For the research, they were asked to describe events that made them angry.
This was designed to put them in an angry mood.
Then some listened to extreme music of their choice while others sat in silence for 10 minutes.
Ms Sharman said:
“A secondary aim for the study was to see what music angry participants would select from their playlist.
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.”
Here are a few examples of the song titles, if you need to ‘calm down’ a little:
- Dawn of Battle by Manowar
- The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder by Gloryhammer
- Dark Days by Parkway Drive
- 11 Ways To Hate by Five Finger Death Punch
So, if ‘Five Finger Death Punch’ do it for you, then go for it.
You have the blessing of these psychologists.
The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Sharman & Dingle, 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Suicide Silence image from Shutterstock (Stock Photo: HELSINKI, FINLAND: American extreme metal band Suicide Silence performs live on stage July 1, 2012 at 15th annual Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in Suvilahti, in Helsinki, Finland)