Who enjoys listening to violent music and why?

William Forde Thompson*, Andrew M. Geeves, Kirk N. Olsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
341 Downloads (Pure)


Negative emotions are usually avoided in daily life yet often appreciated in artistic endeavors. The present study investigated emotional experiences induced by death metal music with extremely violent themes and examined whether enjoyment of this genre of music is associated with personality traits. Fans (N = 48) and nonfans (N = 97) listened to 60-s excerpts of death metal music and rated their emotional experiences. Compared with nonfans, fans experienced a wide range of positive emotions including power, joy, peace, and wonder. In contrast, nonfans reported uniformly negative experiences, including tension, anger, and fear. Fans and nonfans were also distinguished by personality traits, with fans lower in conscientiousness and agreeableness, and in their motivations for listening to music. Results suggest that individuals with certain personality traits and music-listening motivations are drawn toward aggressive music with violent themes, and their enthusiasm for this genre promotes a range of positive emotional responses to this music.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-232
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Popular Media Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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