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Kneer, Julia; Rieger, Diana (2016): The Memory Remains: How Heavy Metal Fans Buffer Against the Fear of Death. In: Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Vol. 5, No. 3: pp. 258-272
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Abstract

Heavy metal music is often associated with death and dying by nonfans whereas members of this subculture report that listening to metal music is their escape from depression and even helpful against death-related thoughts. According to terror management theory, self-esteem and cultural worldview serve as a symbolic, 2-component buffer system working against the fear of death. What remains unclear in recent research on terror management theory is if (a) the presentation of cultural goods directly after mortality salience is enough to help against the fear of death or if the buffer components still need to be activated and (b) if the activation of 1 buffer component is enough. Metal music can be seen as cultural good for fans and thereby can form part of their social identity. Two studies investigated whether heavy metal music is able to serve as a cultural worldview buffer against existential anguish by using implicit measurements. In Study 1, we found that fans had no further need to increase their cultural worldview but only if they listened to metal music after the induction of mortality salience. Results of Study 2 revealed that metal music made further support of self-esteem unnecessary for fans whereas nonfans still had the need to increase their self-esteem.