Social bonds are vital to our health and well-being. In a new study from the DNRF’s Center for Music in the Brain (MIB) at Aarhus University, post-doc Jan Stupacher, center leader Peter Vuust and research colleagues from England and Norway have examined how music develops social bonds. The results show that synchronous movements increase social closeness when moving together to music. The study was recently published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Synchronous movements between individuals increase social closeness when moving together to music. This is the main conclusion of a study conducted at the DNRF’s Center for Music in the Brain (MIB) at Aarhus University, where post-doc Jan Stupacher, head of center Peter Vuust, and research colleagues from England and Norway investigated how music provides a unique framework for creating social bonds between people. The results were recently published in Nature Scientific Reports.
“There is something sublime and affectionate in moving together with people in the crowd of a concert or in a music club. Even just watching people synchronize their movements in dance or when making music together can give us a feeling of harmony and affiliation,” said Stupacher, post-doc at MIB and first author behind the study. He added:
“A friend just left the following comment on the paper: ‘My best friends are those whom I met at dance parties and electronic music festivals around the globe! The time spent together dancing and laughing creates such a strong bond and feeling of comm(unity).’ This is in line with our general conclusion: The unique context provided by music can strengthen social bonds that connect people with different backgrounds – especially if these people move together in time with the beat and enjoy the same music.”
In the study, Stupacher and the rest of the research team were particularly interested in how cultural familiarity and personal taste affect social bonds when moving synchronously or asynchronously with another person.
In three individual experiments with participants from all over the world, the results showed that movement synchrony through social affiliation was more influenced by what music the participants enjoyed than by what music the participants knew. When music was enjoyed, social closeness increased sharply with a synchronized partner, but only slightly with an asynchronous partner. However, this did not apply if participants were able to recognize the music. Here, the social proximity was higher independent of the movement synchrony.
“The current study goes to the heart of why human beings are musical creatures in the first place. It shows that the reason why music connects us is that it combines bodily synchronization with positive emotions. It indicates that if there is an evolutionary advantage of music, it is probably due to its ability to synchronize our movements, emotions and brains,” said Professor Peter Vuust, head of center at MIB and senior author behind the study.