An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: I’ve had one desire since I was born; to see my body ripped and torn. The lyrics of death metal band Bloodbath’s cannibalism-themed track, Eaten, do not leave much to the imagination. But neither this song — nor the gruesome lyrics of others of the genre — inspire violence. That is the conclusion of Macquarie University’s music lab, which used the track in a psychological test. It revealed that death metal fans are not “desensitized” to violent imagery. The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Open Science. How do scientists test people’s sensitivity to violence? With a classic psychological experiment that probes people’s subconscious responses; and by recruiting death metal fans to take part. The test involved asking 32 fans and 48 non-fans listen to death metal or to pop whilst looking at some pretty unpleasant images.
Lead researcher Yanan Sun explained that the aim of the experiment was to measure how much participants’ brains noticed violent scenes, and to compare how their sensitivity was affected by the musical accompaniment. To test the impact of different types of music, they also used a track they deemed to be the opposite of Eaten. “We used ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams as a [comparison],” said Dr Sun. Each participant was played Happy or Eaten through headphones, while they were shown a pair of images — one to each eye. One image showed a violent scene, such as someone being attacked in a street. The other showed something innocuous — a group of people walking down that same street, for example. “If fans of violent music were desensitized to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn’t show this same bias. “But the fans showed the very same bias towards processing these violent images as those who were not fans of this music.”
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