Singing in a choir and playing a team sport improve psychological wellbeing

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Singing in a choir

A recently published study has suggested that being part of a group gives choral singers and team sport players a higher sense of wellbeing than pursuing an activity alone.

Researchers from Oxford Brookes University carried out an online study, titled ‘It’s better together: The psychological benefits of singing in a choir’, with 375 participants across three areas of leisure activity; singing in choirs, playing in team sports such as cricket and football and solo singing. The study aimed to address whether or not choral singing gave individuals a higher sense of wellbeing than other leisure activities and if so, why. 

Lead researcher Nick Stewart, who carried out the research while studying for his Masters at Oxford Brookes, said: “Previous research has suggested that singing in a choir might be beneficial for psychological wellbeing but little is known about whether this effect is unique to choral singing or the factors that could be responsible for it.

The findings suggest that choral singers regard their choir group as more psychologically ‘meaningful’ than sports men and women.

Nick Stewart, Lead Researcher

“The findings suggest that choral singers regard their choir group as more psychologically ‘meaningful’ than sports men and women.  This could be explained by the sense of being part of a cohesive group who are performing in synchrony rather than individuals who have their own role within a sports team.

“Overall though, participants didn’t differ significantly in terms of how well their chosen activity met their need for social connection and belongingness. This would suggest that any leisure activity pursued with or in front of others, serves our need to connect with others.”

The paper, by Nick Stewart and Dr Adam Lonsdale, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes, has been published in the Psychology of Music journal and can be viewed online

Nick is now a trainee clinical psychologist at the University of Bath and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. 

Information about studying Psychology at Oxford Brookes University can be found on the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health webpages