We wish to explore whether repeated participation in musical group interaction (MGI) may enhance children's capacity for empathy by strengthening and refining specific cognitive skills that may generalize from the music domain to empathy in every day life. Building on a successful pilot study, the project's main activities will be: (1) running a large-scale MGI program for children in two different countries; (2) testing the program's impact on participants’ capacity for empathy using a combination of standard and novel measures; and (3) running in parallel two additional non-musical control interaction programs, one verbal and the other non-verbal. Running the program in two disparate geographical regions should indicate whether sociocultural context may affect the postulated relationship between music and empathy. We will also investigate the impact of specific cultural and individual personality trait variables on the engagement and outcomes of the MGI. The additional non-musical control programs will establish whether music specifically is a preferable form of interaction for enhancing empathy. The outputs to be generated from this study include peer reviewed papers, conference presentations and an international workshop on music and empathy, intended to lead to an edited book on theoretical, experimental and practical aspects of this topic. In addition we plan to create a website with all the resources necessary for preparing and running an MGI program. The project will make a difference by introducing a novel, effective, bottom-up strategy for cultivating empathy in children through a friendly, well-structured and scientifically validated musical program. We anticipate academic and public interest in our findings and hope to encourage teachers, parents and policy-makers to implement MGI programs for children worldwide and to thus take advantage of the exceptional qualities of musical interaction for the benefit of fostering empathy in tomorrow's society.
Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.