When we sing with other people, it is easy to develop social bond. This may increase cooperative behaviors and create a positive atmosphere in the group.
Now researchers find that doing creative activities together, such as taking evening class, can also improve adults’ health and wellbeing. The finding is recently published in Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology.
Researchers from University of Oxford conducted the study. They formed 7 community-based adult education classes. Among them, 4 classes were about singing with 84 adult students (18-83 years old); and 3 classes were about creative writing or crafts with 51 adult students (24-81 years old).
All the classes ran weekly and lasted 7 months. In singing classes, professional singing tutors taught students to sing in groups. In crafts and writing classes, professional tutors taught students basic writing and crafting knowledge.
Each student reported his/her depression and anxiety, physical health, wellbeing, social bonding to the class group, and bonding to individual classmates in Month 1, 3 and 7.
Researchers found that both types of social bonding (with class group and with individual classmates) were related to better physical and mental health conditions over time. Students reported less physical health problems, less depression and anxiety, and more positive emotions.
Moreover, bonding with the evening class group at Month 7 could strongly predict students’ physical health and wellbeing improvement. No such effect was found in the bonding with individual classmates. This suggests that when individuals felt integrated in their class group, they had better health and more happiness.
In addition, no difference between singing and other art learning behaviors were found. This means singing, writing, and crafts can all benefit students’ health and wellbeing as long as students can bond with the class group.
Researchers suggest that feeling part of a group can particularly yields health and wellbeing benefits. This may be because bonding with group can provide opportunities for social interaction and expand social network. More importantly, individuals feel connected to their group as a whole.
Citation: Pearce E, et al. (2016). Is Group Singing Special? Health, Well-Being and Social Bonds in Community-Based Adult Education Classes. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, published online. doi: 10.1002/casp.2278.
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