Extreme metal guitarists

Why do they play?

The pet project of the wonderful Tara DeLecce and Farid Pazhoohi, which I have been allowed to help with.

Article: Here!
Vocal summary (at EHBEA 2022): Here!

The study was mentioned in a couple of places, for example QI, Metal Hammer, Guitar World, Music Radar, Loud Wire, PsyPost, and – for some reason – Hacker News.

There has been considerable discourse surrounding the fundamental rationale behind cultural expressions, such as music and art. Two primary hypotheses have emerged to explain the function of music: sexual selection and the manifestation of human cognitive complexity. While evidence exists indicating that musical aptitude enhances male attractiveness, the sexual selection explanation may not apply universally across all musical genres. In particular, extreme metal, a genre predominantly favored by males among both musicians and enthusiasts, raises doubts regarding the notion that musicians in this genre primarily seek to optimize their reproductive success through musical expression. However, it remains noteworthy that musicians in the extreme metal genre invest significant amounts of time in honing technical proficiencies, including manual dexterity, coordination, and temporal precision. This prompts inquiry into the underlying purpose behind this laborious investment.

Male extreme metal guitar player.

One plausible explanation is that male individuals engage in this genre as a means of seeking social status, employing their technical prowess and speed to intimidate their male peers, thereby bolstering their societal standing. To elucidate the motivations underlying the acquisition of technical guitar skills, a sample of 44 heterosexual male metal guitarists were recruited and subjected to surveys encompassing their practice habits (utilizing a survey specifically devised for this study), sociosexual behavior, and intrasexual competitiveness. Analysis of the survey outcomes revealed a positive correlation between the time spent practicing chords and the inclination towards engaging in casual sexual encounters with women. Moreover, perceptions of one’s own playing speed positively predicted feelings of intrasexual competitiveness—an aspiration to impress and outperform other men. The ensuing discussion in our article deliberates upon how these findings, in conjunction with the characteristics of the extreme metal genre, may relate to the three competing hypotheses elucidating the function of cultural displays.