Dancing helps children form friendships, even when there is a history of ill-feeling, study finds

As every disco-lover knows, dancing can be a great way to break the ice. But now Oxford University academics have discovered that dancing can help children form friendships too.

The researchers taught 100 children, aged 7 to 12 years, several dance moves, split them into small groups and asked them to perform in front of each other.

Those who danced in a similar way with each other felt closer, the study said.

But the children who danced differently from each other, and at a different tempo, felt no sense of bonding.



Different groups of children were taught basic moves such as swinging their arms in time to the beat, out of sight of each other.

They were then asked to perform the moves face-to-face with other groups for around three minutes.

Children were asked how they felt about their own group and the others, both before and after the dancing.

They reported they felt closer to their own group beforehand, but more connected to children in the other group afterwards.

However, there was no evidence of bonding between groups of children who performed different moves to different beats.

Lead author Bahar Tuncgenc, a PHD student at Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, said: “Throughout our lives, we find that there are groups we identify with and those we feel distinctly cool or even negative towards.

“These feelings determine our attitudes and strongly influence how we socialise.

“This study shows how simple dance moves, such as swinging arms or stepping from side to side in time, draw children together emotionally, even if they started out in different groups.”

“The findings may help those developing social and educational interventions for increasing cohesion and co-operation among groups where there are economic, ethnic or religious divides,” he added.


Source: Oxford University