Liking heavy metal music is a sign of high intelligence, research suggests.
Some people may use heavy metal music as a way of coping with being talented.
Being a ‘metalhead’ is sometimes associated with poor performance and delinquency, but this survey found otherwise.
More intelligent people may find themselves outsiders and use heavy metal music to deal with the stress.
Dr Stuart Cadwallader, the study’s author, says there is a stereotype that more intelligent people are into classical music.
While this is true for some, others take solace in heavy metal.
Dr Cadwallader said that young people enjoy the complex and sometimes political themes in metal that are not explored in mainstream pop music.
Both alienation and being separate from society may chime with some gifted people.
The results come from a survey of 1,057 members of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth in the UK.
This body represents young people aged 11-18 who are in the top 5 per cent academically.
The results showed that while rock was the most popular genre among talented youngsters, one-third rated heavy metal in their top five genres and 6 per cent gave it top spot.
Those who particularly liked heavy metal also tended to have lower self-esteem.
Genres traditionally linked to intelligence — classical music and jazz — were the least popular.
Some young people said they liked to literally ‘jump out’ their frustrations and anger to heavy metal.
Dr Cadwallader said:
“Perhaps the pressures associated with being gifted and talented can be temporarily forgotten with the aid of music.
As one student suggests, perhaps gifted people may experience more pressure than their peers and they use the music to purge this negativity.”
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
The study was published by the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (Cadwaller, 2007).