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A Life History Approach to Artistic Endeavours and Production: the Case of Metal Music

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According to life history theory, as resources and energy are not infinite, individuals show behavioural and psychological variations on a fast-slow continuum associated to their life strategies. Fast strategies are associated with short-term gains and more opportunistic attitudes, while slow strategies are associated with delayed gratification and investment in long-term goals and plans. Art production, including music making, is a costly activity, demanding time and money for training, as well as an investment in a non-secure future. Hypothesizing that artistic production is an indicator of slow life strategy and should be more prevalent in safer and more affluent environments, we investigate whether music production is more prevalent and successful in higher socioeconomic environments. Across two studies, we investigated the effects of parasite stress and Human Development Index (HDI) on different indicators of metal music production (i.e. number of bands and labels) across the USA and the world. We found that HDI is a better predictor of metal music production than parasite stress. Our results suggest that individuals from harsher environments (including poorer health, education and wealth) are less likely to be able to afford resources to engage in artistic activities that include delayed gratifications.

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This work was supported by a Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellowship awarded to FP, and grants to AK from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (2016–04319), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (435–2019-0749).

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Correspondence to Farid Pazhoohi.

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Karlos Luna and Farid Pazhoohi contributed equally.

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Pazhoohi, F., Luna, K., Bischof, W.F. et al. A Life History Approach to Artistic Endeavours and Production: the Case of Metal Music. Evolutionary Psychological Science 8, 189–195 (2022).

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