Does music help regulate depressive symptoms for fans of violently themed music?

Merrick Powell*, Kirk N. Olsen, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Fans of extreme metal and rap music with violent themes, hereafter termed “violently themed music,” predominantly experience positive emotional and psychosocial outcomes in response to this music. However, negative emotional responses to preferred music are reported to a greater extent by such fans than by fans of non-violently themed music. We investigated negative emotional responses to violently themed music among fans by assessing their experience of depressive symptoms, and whether violently themed music functions to regulate negative moods through two common mood regulation strategies: discharge and diversion. Fans of violent rap (n = 49), violent extreme metal (n = 46), and non-violent classical music (n = 50) reported depressive symptoms and use of music to regulate moods. Participants listened to four one-minute excerpts of music in their preferred genres and rated negative emotional responses to each excerpt (sadness, tension, anger, fear). There were no significant differences between ratings of depression between groups, but depressive symptoms predicted negative emotional responses to music across all groups. Furthermore, depression ratings predicted the use of the mood regulation strategy of discharge in all groups. The discharge strategy did not reduce (or exacerbate) fans’ negative emotional responses, but may nevertheless confer other benefits. We discuss implications for the psychosocial well-being of fans of violently themed music.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1311
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


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