Originally published: May 24, 2017
The universal language of music may have a humanising effect and reduce feelings of prejudice between people from different racial backgrounds, say scientists. Researchers recorded a mock news story featuring an Arab and an American actor playing music together. They then showed the video clip to US participants who were not Arab.
The team found that when viewing the two cultures collaborating on music, individuals in the study were prone to report more positive perceptions – less of a prejudiced view -of Arabs. “Music would not have developed in our civilisations if it did not do very important things to us,” said Jake Harwood, a professor at the University of Arizona (UA) in the US.
“It allows us to communicate common humanity to each other. It models the value of diversity in ways you don’t readily see in other parts of our lives,” said Harwood. The benefits were notable, even when individuals did not play musical instruments themselves. Merely listening to music produced by outgroup members helped reduce negative feelings about outgroup members, Harwood said.