Universality and diversity in human song

Science Vol/Iss. 366(6468) American Association for the Advancement of Science Washington, D.C. Published In Pages: eaax0868
By Mehr, Samuel A., Singh, Manvir, Knox, Dean, Ketter, Daniel M., Pickens-Jones, Daniel, Atwood, S., Lucas, Christopher, Jacoby, Nori, Egner, Alena A., Hopkins, Erin J., Howard, Rhea M., Hartshorne, Joshua K., Jennings, Mariela V., Simson, Jan, Bainbridge, Constance M., Pinker, Steven, O’Donnell, Timothy J., Krasnow, Max M., Glowacki, Luke


There is a positive relationship between song and behavior cross-culturally.


To test cross-cultural associations between song and behavior, this study examined 20 previously hypothesized associations (behaviors relating to: dance, infancy, healing, religious activity, play, procession, mourning, ritual, entertainment, children, mood/emotions, work, storytelling, greeting visitors, war, praise, love, group bonding, marriage/weddings, and art/creation). Of the 20 behaviors tested, 14 were significantly related for both methods, and one method was significant in the 6 remaining.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Song typeDependentMusic
Behavior IndependentDance, Games, Infant Care, Magic, Marriage, Recreation, Ritual, Shamans And Psychotherapists, Verbal Arts, Warfare