A musical genre usually associated with anger and hate, focusing on harsh vocals with complex and unusual instrumental rhythms, but recent research conducted by a university professor has found that for these reasons, a large percentage of the most intelligent and talented students, listen to metal.

Researching the Psychology of Heavy Metal Fans

Psychologist Stuart Cadwallader and Professor Jim Campbell, of the University of Warwick, conducted a survey of 1,057 students, all members of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth from ages 11 to 18, in which they were asked questions about their school attitude, family, and many other topics, including their favorite genres of music.

Intelligence and preference to metal musicThe results surprised Cadwallader and Campbell, revealing that the more traditional genres such as classical and jazz were the least popular, and that, in fact, over a third of the students listed ‘Heavy Metal’ as one of their favorite types of music. Although rock and pop were listed as the general favorites for the students, they still mentioned their attraction to the anger and power of metal, which allowed them to vent their frustrations of the pressure that came with being talented or gifted.

Why Do Gifted Youths Listen to Heavy Metal?

One student remarked about metal, that “You can’t really jump your anger into the floor and listen to music at the same time with other types of music,” which really portrays the idea of why metal has such a unique and profound effect on people. The idea of being able to release feelings of stress and pressure through a loud, angry source would be particularly useful to people put into high-stress situations. In particular, the gifted and more intelligent children, as the constant pressure placed on them by parents and teachers to improve and push themselves to limits not experienced by more average people takes an emotional toll.

Another student explained, “The cathartic release offered by heavy music played loud, either by my hi-fi or myself on guitar, is a wonderful thing when it’s needed.” demonstrating how a person may not primarily listen to metal, but when it is needed, it can be a powerful tool and the only genre of music that can effectively release tension.

From this research, we are not only shown how metal can be an amazing way to release tension in high-stress situations, but also why metal is such an appealing genre to people under pressure. It gives them the release they need to function at full performance, without becoming over-stressed or exhausted, making it a truly amazing genre of music, to produce such spectacular results.