DeLecce, T., Pazhoohi, F., Szala, A., & Shackelford, T. K. (2022). Extreme metal guitar skill: A case of male–male status seeking, mate attraction, or byproduct? Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000304
Abstract: There has been much debate around the ultimate explanation of cultural displays such as music and art. There are two main competing hypotheses for the function of music: sexual selection or byproduct of the complexity of the human brain. Although there is evidence that playing music increases male attractiveness, the sexual selection explanation may not be mutually exclusive to all types of music. 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. 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. To explore the reasoning behind investment in technical guitar skills, a sample of 44 heterosexual male metal guitarists was recruited and surveyed about their practicing habits (newly created survey for this study), sexual behavior (using the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory–Revised [SOI-R]; Penke & Asendorpf, 2008), and feelings of competitiveness toward the same sex (via the Intrasexual Competition Scale [ICS]; Buunk & Fisher, 2009). 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 (a desire to impress other men). The discussion addresses how these results, and the extreme metal genre, might relate to the three competing hypotheses for the function of cultural displays. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
H/t Tyler Cowen.