Toronto Metropolitan University
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Joint music making: effects on intra- and inter-group relations

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posted on 2021-05-23, 11:14 authored by Arla Jaye Good
Joint music making is an integral component of many social and cultural rituals. One compelling explanation for the prevalence of joint music making is that it has the capacity to enable social groups to develop and maintain social bonds, indexed by a more cooperative social group. While a growing body of literature supports this theory, what remains unknown is whether this social bonding capacity of joint music making can transcend salient intergroup boundaries and foster more positive intergroup relations. My central hypothesis integrates social identity theory and embodied social cognition with respect to joint music making. Specifically, I hypothesize that joint music making will generate a collective identity and promote cooperation across intergroup boundaries. This dissertation consists of three research studies. Study 1 assessed the impact of joint music making on social categorization and cooperation in a minimal groups context established in a laboratory environment. Results demonstrated that joint music making fostered a collective identity and promoted cooperation across minimal intergroup boundaries. Studies 2 and 3 were field studies that considered the ecological validity of the impact of joint music making in elementary school children. Study 2 assessed the impact of joint music making on cooperation in a group of elementary school children with diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Results demonstrated that children who engaged in joint music making demonstrated more cooperative behaviours than children who engaged in group art or competitive games. Study 3 assessed the impact of joint music making on social categorization in a situation involving indirect contact between groups. This was investigated in the context of a cultural education program involving singing administered in a uni-cultural private school. Qualitative and quantitative data suggest that singing foreign songs encouraged the adoption of a collective identity across intergroup boundaries (i.e., a shared common humanity); however, no changes were found in behavioural intentions towards foreign children. Together, these research studies provide preliminary evidence that joint music making can promote a collective identity and cooperative behaviours across intergroup boundaries. This dissertation contributes to the theoretical understanding of joint music making and its potential applicability to improve intergroup relations.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychology

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation



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    Psychology (Theses)


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