Music Can Induce Empathy
A scientific study shows that music can be composed in a way that teaches children compassion
Co-authored by Ian Cross and Pamela Burnard the study of playing musical games was found to cultivate a sense of empathy in children. The researchers ran the musical program with children eight to eleven years old over the length of an entire school year. The children were divided into several small groups and the music was composed with various musical games. The musical games were created from specific elements uncovered in a previous study on musical group interaction with a focus on empathy promotion. “What is special about musical interaction is that it relies on a remarkably rich and intense blend of social, cognitive and emotional skills that appear to be also important for emotional empathy (e.g. imitation, entrainment, unarticulated communication, etc.),” Rabinowitch detailed. “We believe that this is not mere chance, but that it is the product of what we hypothesize to have been a co-evolution of music and social structure. This being said, there are of course other forms of interaction that may also positively impact empathy, but music seems to stand out.”
Two control groups were established from the groups of children. The kids in one of the control groups played various similar games with no musical interaction. The second control group did not participle in any program. Measurements for the children’s empathetic aptitude were taken before and after the musical program. Significant increases in empathy scores were found in the children who had undergone the musical programming in comparison to the control groups. They had substantially higher average scores after the study.
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