Joining a singing group may be an easy way to form quick, close bonds with others, a new British study suggests.
“This study shows singing can kick-start the bonding process,” said study leader Eiluned Pearce of the University of Oxford.
The study included people attending weekly adult-education classes. Forty-eight people took singing classes, and 27 took crafts or creative writing classes. Over seven months participants completed surveys asking them to rate how close they felt to their classmates, the researchers explained.
While all the groups reported feeling closer to others in the class after seven months, that closeness seemed to be accelerated in the singing classes.
According to Pearce, the difference between the singers and the non-singers appeared right at the start of the study. “In the first month, people in the singing classes became much closer to each other over the course of a single class than those in the other classes did,” she explained in a university press release.
The study seems to suggest that singing together “broke the ice” more quickly for people than the other activities, Pearce said.
“In the longer term, it appears that all group activities bring people together [in] similar amounts,” she said. However, “in non-singing classes ties strengthened [more gradually] as people talked to each other either during lessons or during breaks. But this is the first clear evidence that singing is a powerful means of bonding a whole group simultaneously.”
The study appears in the Oct. 28 issue of the journal Open Science.
“One of the key differences between humans and other primates is that we can exist in much larger social groups,” Pearce added. “Singing is found in all human societies and can be performed to some extent by the vast majority of people. It’s been suggested that singing is one of the ways in which we build social cohesion when there isn’t enough time to establish one-to-one connections between everyone in a group.”
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on the benefits of music.