People who sing, dance, draw and act—and particularly those who watch others do so—tend to be more altruistic and more willing to contribute to society, says a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Kelly LeRoux, who led the study, described the researchers’ methods: “We correlated survey responses to arts-related questions to responses on altruistic actions—like donating blood, donating money, giving directions, or doing favors for a neighbor—that place the interests of others over the interests of self.”
What’s the Big Idea?
“Even after controlling for age, race and education,” said LeRoux, “we found that participation in the arts, especially as audience, predicted civic engagement, tolerance and altruism.” The arts, always in want of support when appearing before budget-cutting lawmakers, may have found a new ally in LeRoux’s study: “If policymakers are concerned about a decline in community life, the arts shouldn’t be disregarded as a means to promote an active citizenry,” LeRoux said. “Our positive findings could strengthen the case for government support for the arts.”