Why singing in a choir might be good for you

Thursday, 05 December 2013


Singing in a choir might be good for our psychological well-being.

That is the conclusion of research being presented today at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) in York.

The research was conducted by Nick Stewart who has just graduated from Oxford Brookes with a MSc in Psychology. Nick was one of two students from Oxford Brookes who presented at the DCP conference.

Nick set up an online study asking 375 people who sang in choirs, sang alone or were members of sports teams about their experience of these activities.

All three leisure activities yielded high levels of well-being, but Nick’s analysis of the results revealed statistically significant higher reported well-being among people who sang with a choir compared to those who sang alone.

Choral singers also reported seeing their choirs as more coherent or ‘meaningful’ social groups than the sportsmen and women saw their sports teams.

Nick Stewart commented: “Research has already suggested that joining a choir could be a cost-effective way to improve people’s well-being. Yet we know surprisingly little about how the well-being effects of choral singing are brought about.

“These findings suggest that the experience of using your voice to make music may be enhanced when you feel part of a cohesive social group. Further research could look at how moving and breathing in synchrony with others might be responsible for creating a unique well-being effect.”

Dr Adam Lonsdale who supervised Nick’s project said: “I am pleased that Nick’s work has been recognised at the DCP Annual Conference and the wider interest his research has received. Psychology at Oxford Brookes has an excellent reputation for providing research-led and student-centred teaching and Nick’s work is an excellent example of this.”

 More information on this course is available on the Department webpages. A research poster (PDF) was also created for the conference.  

The DCP Annual Conference takes place at the Royal York Hotel, York, 4-6 December 2013