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People who consume culture feel healthier

Culture has a placebo effect, new study shows

Published måndag 27 augusti 2012 kl 17.43
Sören Holmberg, professor of Political Science. Photo: Dan Hansson/Scanpix

Researchers at Gothenburg University studying the effect of art and music on health found that instead of concrete physical wins, the consumption of culture has a sort of placebo effect.

The Society, Opinion and Media Institute looked into the connection between how people who personally participate in the arts – such as singing in a chorus, dancing or painting – experience their own physical health versus how people feel their health is affected by consuming culture—that is, going to a movie, theater, concert or art exhibit.

One of the study’s hypotheses is that participating in an artistic or cultural endeavor is more beneficial to health than merely consuming the cultural expressions of others.

But the study showed there is almost no positive correlation between culture and health if health is defined as an absence of concrete physical problems such as cardiovascular problems or muscle pain.

That goes for both those who participate actively in an artistic endeavor and those who consume culture. On the other hand, the results showed that many of those who participated in the survey said that when they consume culture they feel that it helps make them physically healthier.

Sören Holmberg, one of the scientists working with the study, told Kulturnytt that the results were in line with earlier research but what makes this one unique is the high number – 9,000 – of people who participated.

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