Extreme Music as an Anger Processing Tool

Music is known to evoke emotions and impact our attitudes. Listeners of music are often drawn to music that will help boost their moods or reflect how they are feeling. For most, extreme music like heavy metal, hardcore, punk, or screamo isn't a go-to when wanting to get in a better mood.   Extreme metal music often gets a bad reputation. From it's loud and powerful sounds to its emotional lyrics depicting anxiety, depression, drug use, or loneliness, some think of extreme music to elicit anger among its listeners. Rather than promoting anger and violence, metal music can be an anger processing tool for those who listen to it.   The University of Queensland conducted a study that revealed that the notion of "extreme music causes anger", was wrong. In the study, the researchers, honors student Leah Sharman and Dr. Genevieve Dingle, looked at 39 listeners of extreme music who were all between the ages of 18 to 34.   Participants of the study were assigned to one of two groups—music condition or control condition. Before conducting the experiment, the participants' baseline heart rate was taken. How high their heart rate was an indication of their psychological states, such as anger, stress, excitement, or fear.   Participants underwent an anger induction, which required them to describe topics that evoked feelings of irritation, like money, work, relationships, etc. Those of the music condition groups were instructed to listen to their preferred music from their own music device for 10 minutes. Those in the control condition were asked to wait until the next part of the experiment and sat in silence for 10 minutes. Afterward, all participants had their heart rate retaken, and were interviewed by the researchers.   What the researchers found to be the most interesting about the study was that even though the music condition group could choose whatever music they wanted, the participants picked extreme songs over something more mellow. Extreme music fans explained that they like to listen to music that matched their anger. The harsh tone of extreme music allowed them to explore the emotion they felt, but by then end they felt more active and even inspired.   This experiment helped to debunk some of the negative connotations surrounding music and prove that all different types of music can affect us in different ways.