Study of 80s metalheads finds that they turn out to be better adjusted than those who listened to other music
“Metal health will drive you mad,” insisted Quiet Riot on the title track of the first heavy metal album to top the Billboard charts, back in 1983. It turns out they weren’t just a little wide of the mark, but completely wrong – because a new study has found 80s metalheads “were significantly happier in their youth, and better adjusted currently” than their peers, and current college students.
Three Decades Later: The Life Experiences and Mid-Life Functioning of 1980s Heavy Metal Groupies, Musicians and Fans – published in the journal Self and Identity (via Pacific Standard) – found that while “metal enthusiasts did often experience traumatic and risky ‘sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll’ lives, … the metalhead identity also served as a protective factor against negative outcomes.”
The study looked at 377 adults: 154 who had been metal fans, musicians or groupies in the 80s, 80 who listened to different music at the time, and 153 California college students.
It turned out that the metalheads “reported higher levels of youthful happiness” than the other groups and “they were also less likely to have any regrets about things they had done in their youth.” There was a caveat, in which it was explained that the survey featured those who were happy to report on their lives, while those who had fallen by the wayside were less likely to participate in the survey.
The key to the metal fans progressing to happy adulthood, the paper suggests: metal’s famed sense of community. “Social support is a crucial protective factor for troubled youth,” the reserachers wrote. “Fans and musicians alike felt a kinship in the metal community, and a way to experience heightened emotions with like-minded people.”
The irony of the study is that metal was considered to be corrosive to moral values and social integration in the 1980s, with groups such as Tipper Gore’s PMRC leading campaigns against it. Judas Priest even found themselves in court, after accusations that their album Stained Class contained subliminal messages that led two young men to kill themselves in 1985.
Via The Guardian