Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Singing together seems to facilitate social bonding, but it is unclear whether this is true in all contexts. Here we examine the social bonding outcomes of naturalistic singing behaviour in a European university Fraternity composed of exclusive 'Cliques': recognised sub-groups of 5-20 friends who adopt a special name and identity. Singing occurs frequently in this Fraternity, both 'competitively' (contests between Cliques) and 'cooperatively' (multiple Cliques singing together). Both situations were re-created experimentally in order to explore how competitive and cooperative singing affects feelings of closeness towards others. Participants were assigned to teams of four and were asked to sing together with another team either from the same Clique or from a different Clique. Participants (N = 88) felt significantly closer to teams from different Cliques after singing with them compared to before, regardless of whether they cooperated with (singing loudly together) or competed against (trying to singing louder than) the other team. In contrast, participants reported reduced closeness with other teams from their own Clique after competing with them. These results indicate that group singing can increase closeness to less familiar individuals regardless of whether they share a common motivation, but that singing competitively may reduce closeness within a very tight-knit group.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Music

Publication Date





1255 - 1273


Fraternity, Group dynamics, affect, emotional closeness, singing, social cohesion