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Psychologists Try to Figure Out Why People Like Death Metal

Why do people like death metal? That is the question that a psychologist is both asking and trying to answer. William Forde Thompson has some surprising discoveries in his examination of the topic. In a summary of his study published in Scientific American, Thompson performed a bunch of psychological tests on 48 self-described death metal fans and 97 non-fans.

The tests were geared at measuring their general empathy level as well as their openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism. After having the subjects listen to three death metal songs, Thompson found that fans of the music reported experiencing feelings of “empowerment, joy, peace, and transcendence” instead of the anger and tension you might thought they would feel. It was the non-fans of death metal that felt angry, with one participant describing the music as sounding like “messed-up teenagers making throaty, irritating noises about how bad their lives are.”


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