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Music makes kids more empathetic, research finds

From The Sacramento Bee:

Exposure to music can makes kids more empathetic, a recent study has found.

The University of Cambridge research, though preliminary, may affect how school systems, policymakers and educators view music and its relationship to a child’s development.

The yearlong study, conducted in the U.K. by researchers Tal-Chen Rabinowitch and Ian Cross, both members of the music faculty at Cambridge, found that children between 8 and 11 years old who engaged in group musical activity were more likely to develop empathy than those in control groups where music was not included.

The study defined empathy as a child having an understanding of the emotional state of another. A total of 52 children – 28 girls and 24 boys – were split, randomly, into three groups. One met weekly and was immersed in interactive musical games and was composed of 13 girls and 10 boys. A second group undertook activities involving the use of written texts and drama, but no music. Another group had no interactive activities at all.

The study found that children involved in musical group interactions scored higher on an empathy test that was given to all the children both before and after the activities.

“Analyzing these two domains theoretically, led us to hypothesize that certain processes and underlying cognitive mechanisms should be naturally shared between musical group interaction and empathy,” said Rabinowitch, the lead researcher.

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