January 29, 2009
Singing, dancing promotes teamwork
When people engage in synchronous activity together -- like singing the national anthem -- they become more likely to cooperate, U.S. researchers said.
Stanford University psychologists Scott S. Wiltermuth and Chip Heath conducted experiments that showed synchronous activity such as marching in step or singing together fosters cooperation.
Two groups of volunteers walked around campus -- one group was told to walk normally and the other group was told to walk in-step. Following the walks, the volunteers participated in an economics game that measures expectations of cooperation -- the more the volunteers cooperate -- the larger the payoff they would receive at the end of the experiment.
The results showed synchrony fosters cooperation -- even when all of the volunteers had financial incentives to cooperate -- the volunteers from the synchronized groups tended to be more cooperative during the games -- and ended up earning more money -- than volunteers from groups that had moved asynchronously.
The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggest cultural practices which involve synchrony -- such as dancing, singing or marching -- may enable groups to produce members who are cooperative and willing to make personal sacrifices, for the benefit of the group.