We all know that music can have magical effects on your mood, soothing a broken heart, pumping you up for a trip to the gym or a night out, or getting you in the zone when you need to concentrate. But the incredible power of music isn't limited to its effects on the individual.

Music can do amazing things for groups too.

Less pain 

"Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection," explains a recent Greater Good Science Center round-up of research on the subject.

And it's not just that groups that rock out together, feel closer and cooperate more easily. Studies also show that singing or dancing with others increases your pain tolerance. (Now I finally understand how so many women can wear heels for a night out at the club.) Singing in a choir has similar effects.

More bonding

This is all down to chemicals like endorphins and dopamine, but as Greater Good goes on to explain, these changes in the brain don't just protect you from pain. They also help you feel closer to others.

"In a series of ingenious studies, researchers Chris Loerch and Nathan Arbuckle studied how musical reactivity--how much one is affected by listening to music--is tied to group processes, such as one's sense of belonging to a group, positive associations with ingroup members, bias toward outgroup members, and responses to group threat in various populations," says the post.

"The researchers found that 'musical reactivity is causally related to...basic social motivations' and that 'reactivity to music is related to markers of successful group living.' In other words, music makes us affiliate with groups," it concludes.

If you're interested in a deeper dive into the science, the article digs into the particulars of several studies, but the bottom line seems to be this: listening to music together helps people coordinate their actions, feel emotionally closer, be more generous, and finish tasks together more efficiently. Aren't those all things you'd like your team to do more of?

While the Greater Good post doesn't specifically discuss office environments (though it does talk positively about one conference sing-along), the implications are pretty clear. If you can manage to get your team to agree on a playlist, listening to some tunes together -- and hey, even belting out a chorus or two if it suits you -- seems likely to bring you closer together and make you more productive. Plus, you'll probably enjoy your day a little more too.

Office dance party anyone?

Published on: Jul 12, 2016
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