Tuning in to others: Exploring relational and collective bonding in singing and non-singing groups over time
Pearce E., Launay J., Maccarron P., Dunbar RIM.
© The Author(s) 2016. Although it has been shown that singing together encourages faster social bonding to a group compared with other activities, it is unknown whether this group-level "collective" bonding is associated with differences in the ties formed between individual singers and individuals engaging in other activities ("relational" bonding). Here we present self-report questionnaire data collected at three time points over the course of seven months from weekly singing and non-singing (creative writing and crafts) adult education classes. We compare the proportion of classmates with whom participants were connected and the social network structure between the singing and non-singing classes. Both singers and creative writers show a steeper increase over time in relational bonding measured by social network density and the proportion of their classmates that they could name, felt connected with, and talked to during class compared to crafters, but only the singers show rapid collective bonding to the class-group as a whole. Together, these findings indicate that the process of creating a unitary social group does not necessarily rely on the creation of personal relationships between its individual members. We discuss these findings in the light of social cohesion theory and social identity theory.