A new study from Oxford University has found that singing with new people is one of the best ways to bond. People who took part in a weekly singing class became closer to each other faster than others taking art or creative writing courses, researchers following more than 100 participants found. The adults were asked to rate how close they felt to the people in their classes on a scale of one to seven, both before their class and after.
After one month, singers said they were nearly two points closer to their new acquaintances overall than the artists and writers, who reported feeling about half a point closer to their classmates.
Breaking the ice
The ratings evened out by the end of the seven-month courses, but singing was definitely the quickest way to making new friends, evolutionary neuroscientist Eiluned Pearce wrote in the journal Royal Society Open Science: “Singing seems to break the ice so you have this big upfront kick start to the process of social bonding.”
Music’s positive effect on improving mood and making people more co-operative has been well documented, but no previous studies had looked at how music facilitates social bonding, Pearce said.
While most human bonding requires one-on-one interaction, the study hypothesised that singing might bond groups as a whole because of the synchronised nature of the activity.
The findings could also give us insight into how early human societies functioned, Pearce said. “If you think about our evolutionary ancestors, you could imagine some kind of singing ritual to bond groups together very quickly so they could then take part in some sort of collective activity like hunting.”