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Three Decades Later: The Life Experiences and Mid-Life Functioning of 1980s Heavy Metal Groupies, Musicians, and Fans

  • Author(s): Howe, TR
  • Aberson, CL
  • Friedman, HS
  • Murphy, SE
  • Alcazar, E
  • Vazquez, EJ
  • Becker, R
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2015 Taylor & Francis. Research in the 1980s suggested that young “metalheads” were at risk for poor developmental outcomes. No other study has assessed this group as adults; thus, we examined 1980s heavy metal groupies, musicians, and fans at middle age, using snowball sampling from Facebook. Online surveys assessed adverse childhood experiences, personality, adult attachment, and past and current functioning in 377 participants. Results revealed that metal enthusiasts did often experience traumatic and risky “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” lives. However, the “metalhead” identity also served as a protective factor against negative outcomes. They were significantly happier in their youth and better adjusted currently than either middle-aged or current college-age youth comparison groups. Thus, participation in fringe style cultures may enhance identity development in troubled youth.

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