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Id 139
Author Kirschner, S., ; Tomasello, M.,
Title Joint music making promotes pro-social behavior in 4-year-old children

Kirschner, S.; Tomasello, M. (2010). Joint music making promotes pro-social behavior in 4-year-old children. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 354–364.

Keywords Music; Dance; Gene–culture co-evolution; Human behavior; Child development; Social cognition; Joint action; Shared intentionality; Altruism; Cooperation; Rhythmic entrainment; Gender differences; Interpersonal synchrony
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Abstract Humans are the only primates that make music. But the evolutionary origins and functions of music are unclear. Given that in traditional cultures music making and dancing are often integral parts of important group ceremonies such as initiation rites, weddings or preparations for battle, one hypothesis is that music evolved into a tool that fosters social bonding and group cohesion, ultimately increasing prosocial in-group behavior and cooperation. Here we provide support for this hypothesis by showing that joint music making among 4-year-old children increases subsequent spontaneous cooperative and helpful behavior, relative to a carefully matched control condition with the same level of social and linguistic interaction but no music. Among other functional mechanisms, we propose that music making, including joint singing and dancing, encourages the participants to keep a constant audiovisual representation of the collective intention and shared goal of vocalizing and moving together in time — thereby effectively satisfying the intrinsic human desire to share emotions, experiences and activities with others.

Metodology Controlled trial with a sample of 96 four years old childrens (48 males and 48 females) from German urban day-care centers. The session lasted about 20 min. and consisted of 4 main episodes (1) experimental manipulation phase, (2) dependent measure one, (3) manipulation phase repeated and (4) dependent measure. All coding was done from short video clips that had been extracted from original video tapes. They ranked all coding categories from the helping and cooperation test acording to three levels of prosociality: high (A), Inermediate (B) and Low (C). Therefore they applied a non-parametric rank-based two-way ANOVA with two crossed factors.

Findings The human children today have an innate proclivity to produce and to enjoy musical behaviors like the ones used in our study. This proclivity together with music's efficiency in coordinating voice and action—thereby highlighting the shared intention of acting together as a “we” unit—encouraged the children in our study to behave more cooperatively and pro-socially towards each other.
Open Access YES
DOI DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.04.004
Search Database ScienceDirect
Technique Controlled trial; Data mining
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