Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

A Quantitative Study of Choral Singing and Psychological Well-Being/ ÉTude Quantitative Sur le Chant Choral et le Bien-êTre

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

A Quantitative Study of Choral Singing and Psychological Well-Being/ ÉTude Quantitative Sur le Chant Choral et le Bien-êTre

Article excerpt

The definition and measurement of well-being has long provided challenges for psychological researchers. Some psychologists propose that well-being should be equated with happiness, while others argue that true well-being must encompass concepts beyond pleasure or affect. Much of the current research reflects this dichotomy (Ryan & Deci, 2001]. The hedonic perspective equates well-being with pleasure of both mind and body. It is generally defined and measured in terms of happiness, mood, and life satisfaction. The eudaimonic perspective, in contrast, posits that well-being must consist of more than happiness. Eudaimonic well-being is defined in terms of human potentials, which include personal growth, autonomy, purpose in life, and relationship with others. In the simplest terms, the difference between the hedonic and eudaimonic perspectives maybe summed up as pleasure versus purpose; thus eudaimonic well-being is often considered a more virtuous pursuit than hedonic well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2001).

Well-being has been associated with a number of individual factors, both physiological and psychological. Stone et al. (2010) found that older adults tended to report higher well-being and lower stress than younger adults. Eudaimonic, but not hedonic, well-being has also been linked to biomarkers of stress in that higher eudaimonic well-being has been associated with lower salivary cortisol and better sleep (Ryff, Singer, & Love, 2004). However, though physical health and psychological well-being have been shown to be correlated, individuals with poor health can report high well-being and those with low well-being can be in excellent health (Ryan &Deci, 2001).

Personality and social factors have also been shown to be associated with well-being. All Big Five personality traits (extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, and agreeableness) have been shown to predict various forms of well-being (Grant, Langan-Fox, & Anglim, 2009). Higher neuroticism (also known as low emotional stability) has been shown to have a significant inverse relationship with both hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing, while high levels of the other four traits have generally been positively associated with well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2001). In terms of social factors, high relatedness, which represents one's feeling of having stable and fulfilling relationships with others, has been shown to be positively associated with well-being, while loneliness has predicted poor well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2001). Similarly, individuals high in well-being tend to be rated as more sociable by others (Nave, Sherman, & Funder, 2008).

Singing and Well-Being

Recent reviews by Gick (2011) and Clift, Nicol, Raisbeck, Whitmore, and Morrison (2010) examined the available research about the relationship of singing, well-being, and health. Although current research into the relationship between singing and well-being is limited (Clift et al., 2010; Gick, 2011 Stacy, Brittain, & Kerr, 2002), it has included considerations of both perceived and quantitatively measured benefits. The perceived benefits of singing have been found to include psychological benefits such as improved mood and self-actualization (Grape, Sandgren, Hansson, Ericson, & Theorell, 2003) as well as improved self-esteem (Bailey & Davidson, 2003); physical benefits such as improved breathing (Clift & Hancox, 2001); and social benefits such as improving social interaction (Bailey & Davidson, 2003) and making friends (Clift & Hancox, 2001). Singers have also reported that singing represented to them an opportunity for growth (Clift & Hancox, 2001), learning (Clift et al., 2007), and self-expression (Bailey & Davidson, 2005). However, the perception of the benefits of singing may be influenced by factors such as socioeconomic status or singing experience. In Bailey and Davidson's (2005) study comparing choirs composed of homeless individuals to a choir composed of middle-class individuals, homeless choristers were more likely to place emphasis on the social opportunities that singing in a choir offered, whereas middle-class choristers placed more importance on the challenge and learning aspects of choral singing. …

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