Does Singing Facilitate Social Bonding?


  • Gunter Kreutz



Psychobiological effects of amateur choral singing were studied in a naturalistic controlled within-subjects trial. A mixed group of novice and experienced singers (N = 21) filled out brief ad hoc questionnaires of psychological wellbeing and gave samples of saliva for measuring levels of salivary oxytocin, cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosteron (DHEA) at the beginning of 2 rehearsal sessions and 30 minutes later. The singing condition included warm-up vocal exercises and repertoire pieces. In the chatting condition, dyads of participants talked to each other about recent positive life experiences. Within-subjects, repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) on self-reported and physiological measures revealed significant Time X Condition interactions for psychological wellbeing and oxytocin. Comparisons of mean scores showed patterns of changes favouring singing over chatting. There were no significant interactions for cortisol, DHEA as well as for the cortisol-DHEA-ratio. These results suggest that singing enhances individual psychological wellbeing as well as induces a socio-biological bonding response.