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Singing serves as effective social ice breaker, study suggests
When it comes to breaking the ice, just break into song. At least, that's according to a new study on social bonding. - photo by Jessica Ivins
OXFORD When it comes to breaking the ice, just break into song.

At least thats according to a new study out of the University of Oxford, which argues that singing is a powerful way to facilitate social bonding.

For the study, researchers followed more than 100 adults enrolled in weekly singing, art and creative writing classes. The classes were two hours long and held at community centers throughout the U.K. for seven months.

The team asked participants to rate how close they felt to their classmates at three different points throughout the courses after one, three and seven months. The surveys were conducted both before and after a class session, researchers said.

The result: While all the groups ended up bonding, the singing group reported feeling closer much faster than the non-singing classes.

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, researchers wrote.

Song, researchers note, can create general feelings of positivity between those actively engaging. And while bonding often requires more one-on-one interaction, singing can create that same bond in an entire group with little to no individual interaction since the goal is the same, study author Eiluned Pearce said in a release.

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, she said.

Additionally, previous studies have shown that singing can trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that promote feelings of bonding. Dance, Pearce said, might offer the same benefit.

So should you really invite a stranger to sing along with you upon introduction?

If nothing else, Pearce said she hopes the findings of her study will help other scientists design programs that can help people navigate social situations and combat loneliness through song.

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, she said.

Music has been proven to have a multitude of positive benefits. Studies have shown it can ease pain, reduce stress, improve sleep quality and improve cognative performance, among other things.