Go ahead and tell your conservative grandparents they’ve been needlessly concerned about your obsession with Iron Maiden. According to a new (and, TBH, not at all surprising) study, your love of heavy metal is not going to turn you into a death-obsessed flesh-eater. In fact, heavy metal music doesn’t make you a violent person at all, despite some old-school perceptions to the contrary, and thanks to this new research, now we know this with absolute certainty. In fact, heavy metal music seems to brings its listeners and fans quite a lot of joy — take that, conservative grandparents.
Per BBC News, the new research comes from the music lab at Macquarie University in Australia, where researchers wanted to explore whether exposure to violent visuals and/or sounds — in this case, heavy metal music — actually decreases a person’s sensitivity to depictions of violence IRL, as is often assumed. Researchers at the university recruited 80 students between 18 and 35 years old, 32 of whom identified themselves as fans of death metal or heavy metal music, and 48 of whom said they weren’t fans of the genre.
For their experiment, the researchers asked the students to listen to either heavy metal or pop music, all while exposing them to "some pretty unpleasant images," per BBC. Basically, the goal was to see how much the students noticed the violence in the images they were shown, and whether that was affected at all by the music they were listening to.
The results of the study, which have been published in the scientific journal Royal Society Open Science, showed that, overall, the participants, regardless of their preferences for or against heavy metal music, had generally negative reactions to the violent imagery they were shown. In other words, nobody appeared to be desensitized to violence, no matter what they were listening to at the time of the study, or what musical preferences they’d indicated prior to the experiment.
"If fans of violent music were desensitised to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn’t show this same bias," Professor Bill Thompson, a co-author of the study, told BBC News. "But the fans showed the very same bias towards processing these violent images as those who were not fans of this music."
"[Death metal] fans are nice people," Professor Thompson added (also, duh). "They’re not going to go out and hurt someone." Again, I’d like to take this moment to say a hearty in your freaking face to all the conservative grandparents out there who clutch their pearls at the sound of Slipknot.
So that settles that, my friends. The next time you hear some worry-wart spouting off about how violent music is "ruining the kids these days," you tell that them that we’re all just human beings trying to get through the day, no matter what’s blasting through our stereos, or how hard we bang our heads.
Or, as Slayer once wisely sang, we are all simply "spirits damned to rot, amidst the brimstone fireballs."
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