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Men play extreme metal to impress other men, according to new study

More speed, more status

There has long been a cliché about men picking up guitars to help them get laid. But a new study posits that, at least when it comes to extreme metal guitarists, there may be another endgame at work.

The study, titled Extreme metal guitar skill: A case of male-male status seeking, mate attraction, or byproduct?, and authored by Tara DeLecce, Farid Pazhoohi, Anna Szala and Todd K. Shackelford, suggests that male guitarists that flock to extreme metal do so in order to show off to other straight male guitarists.

The study was released earlier this year, but was just recently brought to the internet’s attention via a tweet from the Quite Interesting Twitter account, which quoted a passage that read:

"Research shows that heterosexual men who learn to play extreme metal guitar are mostly motivated to do so in order to impress other heterosexual men."

The study gathered a sample group of 44 heterosexual males and explored “the reasoning behind investment in technical guitar skills” by surveying them about their practicing habits, sexual behavior and feelings of competitiveness toward the same sex.

The survey results “indicated that time spent playing chords predicted desire for casual sex with women, whereas perceptions of playing speed positively predicted intrasexual competitiveness,” or a desire to impress other men.

And while chords are all well and good for wooing coeds in the dorms with an acoustic guitar, men who focus on speed and technical facility in their guitar playing often gravitate toward music at the heavier end of the spectrum. As the study states, “Extreme metal is a genre that is heavily male-biased, not only among the individuals that play this style of music, but also among the fans of the genre."

It continued, “Therefore, it is unlikely that extreme metal musicians are primarily trying to increase their mating success through their music. However, musicians in this genre heavily invest their time in building technical skills (e.g., dexterity, coordination, timing), which raises the question of the purpose behind this costly investment. It could be that men engage in this genre mainly for status-seeking purposes: to intimidate other males with their technical skills and speed and thus gain social status."

You can read the full study here. Then get back to woodshedding those sweep arpeggios in order to ensure your alpha male status.