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We all have in mind when we think of a typical metal listener a person wearing black clothes, long haired, with big black boots and etc. For almost each genre, there exist stereotypes of the typical listener.

So I asked myself two questions:

  • Has anyone ever studied those stereotypes and their accuracy, sociologicaly or statisticaly speaking?
  • When did those stereotypes appear? I mean in which context, and why did they appear?

I was thinking specifically about the example of people listening to metal first, but the topic can be widened!

  • 2
    Well, I am the perfect example that even lovers of hard and heavy metal can just look like a normal person. No black leather, no metal spikes and chains, no weird haircut, just a normal young guy... ;D – Byte Commander Feb 25 '15 at 13:40
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    @ByteCommander It's funny, I am a metal fan myself and know a lot of other metal fans and none of us fit the stereotype. In fact, I don't think I've ever met a metal fan who did. – DJ Aftershock Mar 19 '15 at 9:48
  • @DJAftershock Well, I saw some from the distance, so they really exist, but I don't know anybody in person... Though I would like to ;D – Byte Commander Mar 19 '15 at 13:23
  • This doesn't seem like a question particularly focused on music. Stereotypes apply to all sorts of aspects of people's behaviors and preferences. This is more of a general sociology question. – DA. Mar 25 '15 at 18:47
8

The British site YouGov runs surveys online and via mobile. They recently released a 'profiler' service on the site that links basically anything to anything. In other words, you can enter a band name and receive other information on the people who 'liked' that band.

For example Fans of AC/DC are mainly source

  • Male
  • 40-59
  • Live in Central Scotland, Northern Scotland & North East England
  • Professions: Engineering, Manufacturing, Military
  • Monthly spare income - £125

Based on 4700+ 'likes'

And, Fans of Hozier are mainly source

  • Female
  • 18-24
  • Live in London, West Country, Central Scotland
  • Professions: Insurance, Real estate, Advertising
  • Monthly spare income £125 - £499

Based on 998 'likes'

While this isn't a scientific study it does reveal some interesting correlations of data.

3

This news piece made quite a splash in Europe some years back:

The Telegraph
Heavy metal 'a comfort for the bright child'

Intelligent teenagers often listen to heavy metal music to cope with the pressures associated with being talented, according to research.

The results of a study of more than 1,000 of the brightest five per cent of young people will come as relief to parents whose offspring, usually long-haired, are devotees of Iron Maiden, AC/DC and their musical descendants.

Researchers found that, far from being a sign of delinquency and poor academic ability, many adolescent "metalheads" are extremely bright and often use the music to help them deal with the stresses and strains of being gifted social outsiders.

Up until this study was published many parents still thought of heavy music as a danger with deviant risks. It turns out to be a simple reflex of a certain type of social pressure.

3

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience just published an article with insteresting conclusions regarding folk that listen to heavy music:

Extreme metal music and anger processing

Leah Sharman and Genevieve A. Dingle

The claim that listening to extreme music causes anger, and expressions of anger such as aggression and delinquency have yet to be substantiated using controlled experimental methods. In this study, 39 extreme music listeners aged 18–34 years were subjected to an anger induction, followed by random assignment to 10 min of listening to extreme music from their own playlist, or 10 min silence (control). Measures of emotion included heart rate and subjective ratings on the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS). Results showed that ratings of PANAS hostility, irritability, and stress increased during the anger induction, and decreased after the music or silence. Heart rate increased during the anger induction and was sustained (not increased) in the music condition, and decreased in the silence condition. PANAS active and inspired ratings increased during music listening, an effect that was not seen in controls. The findings indicate that extreme music did not make angry participants angrier; rather, it appeared to match their physiological arousal and result in an increase in positive emotions. Listening to extreme music may represent a healthy way of processing anger for these listeners.

2

There is a pretty well-respected sociological study of heavy metal from 1991 by Deena Weinstein, Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology. She covers the roots (hippie "longhair" culture) and the belief structures (strongly masculine, anti-establishment, fatalist, chaos-worshipping) of the metal subculture. It's an excellent book.

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