Synchrony and exertion during dance independently raise pain threshold and encourage social bonding

Biol Lett. 2015 Oct;11(10):20150767. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0767.


Group dancing is a ubiquitous human activity that involves exertive synchronized movement to music. It is hypothesized to play a role in social bonding, potentially via the release of endorphins, which are analgesic and reward-inducing, and have been implicated in primate social bonding. We used a 2 × 2 experimental design to examine effects of exertion and synchrony on bonding. Both demonstrated significant independent positive effects on pain threshold (a proxy for endorphin activation) and in-group bonding. This suggests that dance which involves both exertive and synchronized movement may be an effective group bonding activity.

Keywords: dance; endorphins; self–other merging; social bonding; synchrony.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brazil
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*