We metalheads aren't all grumpy and depressed all the time. We're actually quite happy. The Atlantic published a new article today about finding happiness in angry music, and it's a wonderful read.
We've looked at previous studies, like holding a guitar makes you more attractive to women, if you listen to metal you are more likely to drink and smoke weed and the cry-shield will give you a lazy eye. This article looks at a new study, which focuses on “constructive anger.”
It’s a theory backed up in a recent study conducted by Maya Tamir and Brett Ford, researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In one study, 175 people were asked to participate in role-playing exercises where they had to either confront a person—like a cop interrogating a suspect—or collaborate with someone. But before the role-playing began, the subjects were allowed to choose from a selection of music to aid in evoking the emotions they would need: Anger, happiness, or neutrality. It was up to them to choose what they wanted to hear. “Music is often used as a way to manipulate emotions, I just had people decide how to manipulate their own emotions,” Tamir says.
The subjects were also asked questions about their emotional health, happiness, and feelings of social support.
It’s no novel idea that someone might choose to rev themselves up with aggressive music before a engaging in a tough task: A fourth quarter tie-breaker, a tense salary negotiation. And no surprise, the folks who chose angry music had no problem completing their tasks.
But Tamir also found that the people who chose to be pissed off actually showed a greater sense of well-being overall than the people who avoided feelings of unpleasantness.
“Constructive anger usually leads people to feel that they've accomplished something somehow,” he says. “They've protected somebody or solved a problem.”
I can definitely tell you I've experienced constructive anger many times during the day. There is nothing like revving up to a good Meshuggah record.
The author even interviewed Bill from Mastodon, getting a choice quote about how we're all just nice peeps!
“Most of the people I've met in this genre have been super cool people to me,” he says. “Tom Araya from Slayer is one of the most laid-back, nicest, always-smiling guys. He plays [some of] the heaviest, most satanic music out there.”
The whole article is a really good read.
Of course, it totally contradicts another study which says listening to metal can lead to anxiety and depression, which might only prove that all these studies are probably bullshit.