Ever wondered about the best technique to bond with your new colleagues, or your new partner’s mates? Perhaps a good old fashioned pub sesh with plenty of tipple, or a movie night...
According to a new study by Oxford University, singing is the best way to bond and make new friends.
But before you launch your dulcet tones on those around you, they’re not talking about just screeching along to the latest Taylor Swift song in the middle of the office. The study found that those who took part in a weekly singing class grew closer with one another faster, than people taking creative writing or art classes together.
Researchers at the university got together with the Worker’s Educational Association and followed over 100 participants whilst they partook in weekly singing, art, and creative writing classes around the UK, to find what activities would best facilitate bonding.
After several months, the team was asked to rate how close they felt to their classmates before and after sessions.
After one month, those who did singing classes reported feeling two points closer to their classmates after a session, whereas those who did art or writing classes only reported feeling 0.5 of a point closer to classmates.
After 7 months, though, the ratings of all classes had evened out.
Evolutionary Neuroscientist, Eiluned Pearce, said that the results showed that, although these creative classes caused people to create bonds, singing was the quickest way to get close to people, because it’s a great ice breaker.
Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, Pearce says:
“Singing seems to break the ice so you have this big upfront kick start to the process of social bonding.”
Usually, in order to bond with someone, one-on-one time is essential, but according to Pearce, singing bonds entire groups in unison, without the need for individual interactions. This is because synchronised actions and a joint group vision are need in order to successfully sing together. In this way, singing works to bond people faster because the group has one goal, as opposed to with art or writing where the focus is much more independent.
This behaviour was probably a factor in the coming-together of people in early societies.
“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,” Pearce says.
In the past, music has been shown to lower aggression, and improve mood. It also makes people more cooperative – which explains the bonding.
Singing can also allow for bonding within a much larger group than could occur at the pub where, for example, people are more likely to break-off into smaller sub-groups.
“This might suggest that what we should be doing at the beginning of the school year or before a business meeting is getting groups to sing together to grease the way for better social relationships,” Pearce says.
So, now you’ll know what to do to ease tensions before your next company conference.
Go warm-up those pipes…