Why does dancing lead to bonding?

Posted on April 25, 2016

University of Oxford psychologist (and dancer) Bronwyn Tarr and her colleagues asked teenagers from Brazilian high schools to dance to fast, 130-beat-per-minute electronic music in groups of three. The students were instructed to dance either in or out of sync with one another and with either high or low levels of physical exertion.

Participants said that they felt closer to their dance partners when they were in sync with one another, regardless of the level of exertion. They also felt closer to their group if they exerted themselves more, regardless of whether they were dancing in sync or not.

Synchrony and exertion each raised the dancers' pain tolerance. Pain tolerance was the highest when the students both were in sync and had high energy, according to the study.

Tarr thinks that the two separate effects might both be driven by the release of endorphins, "More endorphins in your system mean higher pain tolerance,” she says. “This study suggests that endorphins are activated when we groove with others and that they may be underpinning social-bonding effects.”

Although the jury is still out about whether endorphins play a part in social bonding, it seems clear that mirroring others—whether in dance, in sports or even in conversation—helps to foster friendships. “We should all dance more,” Tarr says.

These new findings suggest that dance therapy can not only aid in recovery for psychological trauma or physical injury, but the social element of dance can also improve health and help to slow cognitive decline.

Category(s):Dance Therapy

Source material from Scientific American

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