Thursday, 22 March 2007

Metalheads not boneheads

A recent psychological study has drawn links between heavy metal music and gifted youths with low self esteem.

Researchers surveyed 1,057 students aged between 11 and 18 years old to find out about their families, school attitudes, hobbies and media preferences. The students were also asked to rank favoured genres of music.

Rock was found to be the most popular form of music, followed closely by pop. But there were also differences between the type of music the young people liked and their attitudes – with those who liked heavy metal having lower self-esteem and ideas about themselves.

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Further interviews were conducted with 19 gifted students to find out their views on heavy metal. These students said they did not consider themselves to be ‘metalheads’ but identified with specific aspects of this youth culture.

They spoke specifically about using heavy metal for catharsis, literally using the loud and often aggressive music to jump out frustrations and anger. Although the more ardent fans stated that ‘there’s metal out there for every occasion’, many also stated they listen to the music when they are in a bad mood.

Stuart Cadwallader, who conducted the study with professor Jim Campbell of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth at the University of Warwick, speculated that gifted students who feel the pressure of their ability could be using heavy metal music to get rid of negative emotions.

“Perhaps the pressures associated with being gifted and talented can be temporarily forgotten with the aid of music,” he said. “As one student suggests, perhaps gifted people may experience more pressure than their peers and they use the music to purge this negativity.”

More information is available from the University of Warwick's press release.

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