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If you’re among strangers and want to make friends fast, consider joining them in a bit of song. Singing, it turns out, is a powerful ice-breaker for humans, allowing us to bond quickly with people we don’t know, a new study has found.
You’ve probably seen this phenomenon at work if you watch people become chummy in bars, stadiums or concerts after singing in unison.
We usually need lots of interaction to make an emotional connection with others, but “singing may be able to kick start this process in humans,” the authors, all researchers at the University of Oxford, note.
“Singing breaks the ice so that individuals feel closer to the group as a whole even if they do not yet know anything about the individual members.”
For the study, the researchers followed participants who enrolled in weekly adult education classes, including singing, crafts and creative writing, for seven months.
They checked in with the students three times during that period, each time asking them to rate how close they felt to their classmates as a whole.
All of the students became closer to their classmates by the end of the study, but the process was slower for the non-singers.
“The distinguishing feature of singing was that it bonded groups more quickly than the other activities,” the authors write. It seems belting out a tune together creates “general feelings of positivity” towards everyone in the room.
“It also makes you want to put your inhibitions aside,” TODAY'S Matt Lauer said.
“I think I’d make a lot of enemies in a singing class — people wanting to tune me out,” Savannah Guthrie joked.
Singing — an activity found in all human societies — may have evolved to help large groups of people bond quickly without really knowing each other, the study suggests. It was a handy mechanism to have for our ancestors who needed to stick together to survive and thrive.