BY: SWIKAR OLI
People dance as a form of expression, and have historically used it as a healing ritual and a form of therapy. Now, a study by Oxford University psychologists says that dancing, or even tapping in synchrony, may not just increase social bonding but make us more resistant to pain.
To test the effects of dancing, students were taught dance moves and performed them in a circle of three either sitting or standing, depending on how much energy they were to exert. 264 Brazilian students, age 15 on average, were randomly assigned “one of four movement conditions (high exertion synchrony, high exertion partial synchrony, low exertion synchrony, low exertion partial synchrony).”
The groups with synchronized movements reported afterwards that they felt more connected to their partners. Students who danced the same way to the beat felt a togetherness with their group. As the study explains, “these effects are argued to be owing to a blurring of the perception of ‘self’ and ‘other’ leading to a bond between actors.” Interestingly, the sense of connectedness did not extend to people outside the group.
Those who synchronized their movements were also thought to have a greater release of endorphins, which induces pleasure and dulls pain. When researchers put a “blood pressure cuff” to students’ arms, those who synchronized their moves could stand levels noticeably higher that those who didn’t. What’s more, if you exert yourself and synchronize your moves, the positive effects are “additive,” though synchronization seems to have a greater effect.
And if the thought of dancing the same way as someone at a party is just too weird (because it is), even smaller moves like tapping or nodding your head to the same beat as someone else still has its benefits.