The Evolutionary Role of Dance: Group Bonding But Not Prosocial Altruism
Tarr B., Dunbar RIM.
That synchronized activities like dancing or marching positively influence social bonding has been widely demonstrated for both dyads and small groups. However, previous studies of other social bonding behaviors (laughter and behavioral synchrony) have suggested that these prosocial effects do not extend to altruistic actions (generosity in economic games), implying that social bonding and prosociality may be underpinned by different psychological processes. Here, we ask whether dancing to music in a naturalistic (i.e., nonlaboratory) context makes people feel more socially bonded and/or more altruistic (in an economic game) compared to another real-world, exertive activity (group-based gym circuit training sessions).We found that the type of activity did not affect measures of either social bonding or generosity.However, confirming the earlier findings for laughter, we showthat while any form of exertive activity elevates the sense of group bonding (entitativity), it has no effect either on ratings of willingness to act prosocially toward another individual, or on actually acting generously toward them in an economic game. Taken together, these results suggest that altruism, cooperation, and other forms of prosociality may be the outcome of creating bonded relationships and groups, rather than their cause.