As Valentine’s Day approaches, lovers often go looking for activities to keep the flame alive. A Chinese study advises them to try ballroom dancing. For good reason, dancing as a couple would help partners develop their empathy for each other.
The authors of this research came to this conclusion after conducting an experiment with 43 professional ballroom dancers and 40 individuals who had no prior dance experience. They made sure to respect parity and select participants in the same age group.
The researchers then used brain imaging and self-report questionnaires, completed by the study participants, to assess their ability to show empathy. They found that ballroom dancers seemed more endowed with this quality than non-practitioners.
Furthermore, academics noticed that ballroom dancers who had the same partner for years were more empathetic towards them than those who knew their partner less well. Surprisingly, the ability to empathize is inversely related to the number of dance partners. “This suggests that ballroom dancers are more likely to care about others due to their long-term training with fixed dance partners.“, we can read in this study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping.
Interestingly, these observations have neural implications. Indeed, ballroom dancers have greater volumes of gray matter in the so-called subgenual area of the anterior cingulate cortex, this area which plays a crucial role in the regulation of emotions. In addition, the connectivity between this part of the brain and the occipital lobe gyrus (region considered the center of vision) was greater. Which, according to scientists, provides “strong evidence” for the existence of a link between regular ballroom dancing and empathy.
These conclusions should, however, be taken with caution given that this study is, above all, a corollary. It cannot prove that there is a causal link between ballroom dancing and the ability to show empathy. Regardless, dancing is a very beneficial activity for the body and mind. Practicing it with your +1 may do you more good than harm.