Heavy-metal music has been a source of controversy since its origin in the 1980s. Heavy metal typically contains aggressive music, accompanied by violent lyrics, leaving many to claim that it can have certain negative effects on the teenagers that listen to it. There have been several studies done to test the effects that heavy metal actually has on teenagers.
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One of the most vocalised claims about heavy-metal music is that it makes it listeners, especially its young listeners, more violent. A study done by Loyola University has found that this is, in fact, not true and there is no direct relationship between heavy-metal music and violence in teenagers. In fact, it was found that participants that listened to heavy-metal music were less violent than those in the control group. The reason is unclear, but one guess is that since the listener is exposed to violent music, they become adverse to it and decrease their desire to be violent.
All kinds of music have an effect on mood. Heavy-metal music was tested to see if it evoked positive or negative emotions in its listeners. A study by Shaleen L. Coss of the psychology department at Loyola University found that participants who listened to heavy-metal music with violent lyrics and music were less likely to feel depression afterward than those who listened to non-violent songs. They also found that heavy-metal music listeners had higher self-esteem than other participants because of the rush one feels from violent music.
It has been found that there is a link between the amount of heavy-metal music a teenager listens to and a so-called "macho" personality. Fans that listen to heavy metal a lot are more likely to fall into a personality type that craves constant sensation and thrills from life. These will be generally extroverted individuals sexually, though they may not be socially. There is also some evidence to show that heavy-metal fans are more likely to engage in risky behaviour according to the book "Media Violence and Children."
The Calgary Herald has reported that teenagers with higher levels of intelligence are naturally drawn to heavy-metal music, specifically because it relieves the pressure of a stressful life. There is also a large sense of community and solidarity among fans of heavy-metal music, something that intelligent people prefer. Listening to heavy metal is seen by most teens as a way of releasing their internal anger and can actually help relax teens, leading to more hard work and increased academic performance.
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- Clearing House; Loyola University; The Effects of Heavy Metal Music on Aggression in College Students; Shaleen L. Coss
- Canada; The Calgary Herald; Braniacs Prefer Heavy Metal Music; March 23, 2007
- Iowa State Psychology; The Effects of Violent Music on Children and Adolescents; Donald F. Roberts, Peter G. Christenson, and Douglas A. Gentile