Metal Fans Have Low Self-Esteem and Are More Open-Minded, Study Finds

Metallers also share greater need for being unique and lower religiosity than the rest.

Ultimate Guitar

A recent University of Westminster study focusing on metal fans profiled the metallers crowd, noting that metal aficionados tend to be more open-minded, have lower self-esteem, a greater need for being unique, as well as a negative stance towards authority and lower religiosity. Led by psychologist Viren Swami, the team tested 414 British individuals (219 females and 195 males) aged between 18 and 57, asking them to rate 10 metal songs. "Our results confirm previous reports that openness is associated with a preference for rock and heavy metal, including non-mainstream subgenres," study summary reads (via Blabbermouth). "In explanation, it has been suggested that individuals who score highly on openness show a preference for the intensity, variety, complexity, and unconventionality of heavy metal. [It's also been suggested] that individuals who are open-minded and who seek novel experiences may become disinterested in mainstream or conventional musical forms as they grow older. This, in turn, may lead them to seek out musical genres that are unconventional by the standards of mainstream cultures, such as contemporary heavy metal." The researchers further note, "Our results also showed that individuals with more negative attitudes toward institutional authority were more likely to show a preference for the heavy metal tracks. In general, this is consistent with [the] description of heavy metal fans as inhabiting a subculture of alienation, which translates into an opposition to authority and mainstream society… "It is possible, for example, that heavy metal may conjure referent images that are inherently anti-authority or that signal a revolt against mainstream culture. In this sense, individuals who hold more negative attitudes toward authority may show a preference for heavy metal precisely because it expresses their dissatisfaction with authority." Finally, the report adds that "respondents who showed a stronger preference for the metal tracks in the present study were also more likely to have lower self-esteem and higher need for uniqueness. In the first instance, it is possible that individuals with relatively low self-esteem are drawn to heavy metal because the style of music allows for a purge of negative feelings. The catharsis afforded by heavy metal may, in turn, help boost self-worth and promote positive self-evaluations among those with otherwise low self-esteem." So does the given summary properly describe a metal fan? Let us know in the comments.

48 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think this is only the 500th time i've heard the same findings from different studies on this.
    Yeah, feels like I have read the same "news" in UG at least twice before. Also, I think these studies are kind of generalizing. If you listen to heavy metal, it doesn't mean you are like this. And if you don't listen to heavy metal, it doesn't mean you can't be like this.
    Exactly. Are people getting paid to generalize through "studies"? Also, in a minded? "Hurr, metal > anything, if it's not metal, it's crap just 'cause it's not metal!!!" Not generalizing, just saying I know lots of people like these. So not all metal heads are open minded.
    And this kind of studies will just make metal fanboys feel even better because studies like this kind of "prove" that metal > anything.
    It's based on statistics, so yes, there will always be a generalising conclusion. However, don't forget there's room for exceptions in statistical analyses. The researchers didn't state that ALL metalheads have these traits..
    It is stating the obvious to say that metal fans tend to avoid the mainstream culture. Other Indie genres would give a similar result. I find Metal to be very positive and provided me with energy when recovering from a life threatening illness - it is so empowering. Although it pinpoints fans as being anti authority - I find that they are generally the best natured and trouble free individuals - never heard of trouble say at an Iron Maiden Concert yet the average mainstream festivals get loads. Don't think we should be pigeonholed either - that seems to be a problem all round today!
    Open-minded? Really?
    Yes, really. If you don't see it in yourself, just do this: Got to any top chart, listen to some EDM song, criticize the stupidity of the music, then come back here.. That same attitude is what the rest of the world has towards our music.. That's a closed mind. Sorry if this comes of as douchey, but just expressing my opinion..
    It's funny that you say "our" music. Metal fans aren't one group that all agree with each other and not all people in the "outside" world are against metal fans. For example I like some metal songs but I don't care if it's metal or pop or rock or classical or jazz or whatever. I definitely don't like all metal. The only thing that matters is if I like the music or not. Also, IMO it's close minded if you listen to a song that you don't like just for the sake of criticizing it. It would be open minded if you listened to a song and if you didn't like it, you would still appreciate it - it's not for me, I don't like it but somebody else does so I appreciate it. You need to realize that different people have different tastes and criticizing music doesn't help anybody. If you don't like it, why are you listening to it?
    People have different tastes in a lot of things, but that doesn't stop something bad from being bad. Rap and Metal are different, and you could never truly decide if one is better than other, THAT is a difference in taste. But there is definitely an unquestionable difference in quality between artists like Manilla Road or NWA, and stuff like Slipknot or later/newer Lil Wayne. There is good music, there is bad music, and there are different genres of music. It's like the cake vs pie argument. Cake is not better than pie, pie is not better than cake, but an apple pie made of rotten apples is far worse than one that is properly made.
    If this was true, then nobody would listen to Slipknot and Lil Wayne. It is true that nobody likes an apple pie made of rotten apples. But if Slipknot was an apple pie made of rotten apples, a lot people would be pretty sick. It just doesn't work that way. It's all about taste. Some people like Slipknot, some don't. And that's why nothing is objectively bad. If somebody likes it (and quite a few people do), it's not bad music even if you think so. Rotten apple pie is objectively bad because it's really unhealthy and your brain says naturally "no" to it. You don't even have to think about eating it. So there's no good and bad music. There's only music that I like and music that I don't like.
    Though we need to remember that it's easy to say things in the internet. Being open minded in real life doesn't mean you are open minded in the internet. In the internet it's just easy to jump on the bandwagon and say things you wouldn't say in real life.
    Anyone find what songs were used? Curious...
    I think breaking the law by judas priest was one of them. You know you can't get much more anti-authoritive than that.
    "A recent University of Westminster study focusing on metal fans profiled the metallers crowd..." I had no idea that a study on metal fans would profile the metal fans...
    and are in general serial killers, metal leads to violence, it's common sense
    It happened again... Sarcastic comments get -20 until someone points out it is sarcasm. Oh UG community...
    You're closed minded and ignorant. It's common sense
    Come on man, you know that's not true. Metal music is my life's passion, yet I like to help others, share what I have extra of and I even go to church! Metal music has only become the scapegoat because of violent people who just happen to also like metal music, but that doesn't make us all killers
    DDVazquez minded...just like, "im a metalead, and i only listen to 1 specific genre of metal, and if you dont like it, you're and idiot who dont know shit about music"
    What metal heads do you associate with?
    none, i like music, not genres...i can listen to shakira, beatles, yanni, iced earth, metallica, abba, michael jackson, lady gaga, dark funeral, vangelis, bill haley, etc, etc. maybe in that orden and i dont have any problem with it.
    Open-minded. Except on other genres of metal.
    Not true. I am a metal head and I listen to any metal genre I can find. Granted I'll admit some are better than others. But overall I haven't found a genre of Metal that I didn't like at least 1 band from.
    this, I was once told that I wasn't Tr00 enough to like M3t4l because I don't primarily listen to genres with guttural vocals. I ****ing hate elitists.
    Open minded? I'm guessing they didn't test the trve kvlt fans of metal then.
    "Trve kvlt fans", most of which listen to a wide range of music, as opposed to those who whine about "trve kvlt fans", a large chunk of which proclaim we should stop wasting our time hating on Metal, and instead focus on the "enemies of Metal", that being, in their minds, Rap and Pop. Because Metal is infallibe, while Rap and Pop are full of nothing but trash. Truly, 'tis the trve who are close-minded.
    I came to the same conclusions, only ten years ago. Do they get payed for these "studies"?
    Reminiscent of another study I read a few months back on here. I'm not complaining though, I agree with largely everything read.
    People who listen to METALCORE may find it funny to be self-loathing, as I've seen over the past years, but most of the people who listen to METAL are pretty happy dudes.