No wonder Gisele Bethea is such a sweetheart! (Photo by Nathan Sayers)
Um, this is amazing: A new study suggests that dancing might make you more empathetic.
As The Washington Post reported, the study (which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance) found that professional ballet dancers showed unusually strong emotional sensitivity. As the study's subjects—one group of dancers, and a control group of non-dancers—watched brief, silent video clips of classical ballet, electrodes attached to their fingers measured their sweat responses, which indicate emotional reaction. And the dancers among them were much more responsive.
That makes sense, of course: Professional ballet dancers are ballet experts, so you'd expect them to register a ballet performance more acutely. But that's actually the coolest part of the study: It suggests that because dancers have studied how to convey emotion onstage, they're more attuned to the physical expressions of others. Which means it might be possible to train yourself to be more empathetic—and that the dance studio isn't a bad place to start.
Our takeaway? Everyone should dance. IT'S SCIENCE!
Learn more about the study in the great WaPo article, which is definitely worth a read.