Ever since Tony Iommi cranked up his Laney amp back in 1969, parents have warned their kids that heavy metal music was going to ruin their lives. In the Eighties, concerns that listening to heavy metal would incite kids to commit everything from murder to suicide helped to create the Parents Music Resource Center and its much-derided parental warning labels that appeared on album covers.
The fact is, back in the Eighties, those claims were supported by research that seemed to show that young metalheads were at risk developmentally.
Unfortunately, no one ever bothered to follow up and see how they actually turned out.
So California’s Humboldt State University decided to. The university launched a study of adult metalheads. It examined, according to the study abstract, “1980s heavy metal groupies, musicians, and fans at middle age.” A total of 377 people took part in the study.
The university has just published the results of its study in the journal Self and Identity. Titled “Three Decades Later: The Life Experiences and Mid-Life Functioning of 1980s Heavy Metal Groupies, Musicians and Fans,” the study offers conclusions that topple assumptions about heavy metal fans.
While the results showed that metal fans “did often experience traumatic and risky ‘sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll’ lives, their identity as metalheads helped to protect them against other factors that could have produced negative outcomes.
In general, the study found, the metalhead group were “significantly happier in their youth and better adjusted currently than either middle-aged or current college-age youth comparison groups.
“Thus,” the study concludes, “participation in fringe style cultures may enhance identity development in troubled youth.”
You can read the entire study here.
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