When it comes to music, the common belief is that soft music calms you down, while extreme music such as heavy metal makes you angry and edgy.
But according to two researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, extreme music may be a healthy way of dealing with anger and frustration.
The study (Sharman, Dingle, 2015) involved two groups of participants who regularly listened to extreme music.
Each participant was given a 16-minute interview intended to elicit anger. Following the interview, the members of one group were asked to spend 10 minutes listening to extreme music of their choice. The others were asked to sit in silence for 10 minutes.
Additionally, each participant’s feelings were assessed three times during the experiment — before the anger-eliciting interview, after the interview, and after the music-listening session.
Listening to extreme music made participants feel more inspired
Contrary to common expectations, the “extreme music did not make angry participants angrier; rather, it appeared to match their physiological arousal and result in an increase in positive emotions.” (Sharman, Dingle, 2015)
Listening to their choice of extreme music after the anger-inducing interview, made participants feel more inspired.
However, this did not happen for participants who spent 10 minutes in silence after the interview.
Of course, it bears mentioning that all of the participants were habitual listeners of extreme music, which admittedly is a bit of an acquired taste. For those who are not used to the genre, trying to deal with a bad day at the office by listening to Slayer might not be the best idea.
That said, if there’s a musical genre you consider “extreme” but still enjoyable, try queueing it up in your playlist next time you’re upset. You might find it triggers some positive emotions, just like it did for the participants in this study.
Sharman, L., & Dingle, G. A. (2015). Extreme Metal Music and Anger Processing. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, 9. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00272