Theory & Methods

Research Questions


Will choir support social well-being and communication function in people living with communication disorders


Will these benefits accrue over regular engagement with choir?


Will choir will show an added benefit to social wellbeing compared to other group activities?


What are the neurobiological underpinnings of these benefits?


Although there are many ability-focused activities that older adults can engage in, we contend that group singing may be particularly well suited to enhancing social identity, given the important role of the voice in shaping social identity Many adults will develop acute deficits in vocal production arising from age-associated diseases or milder deficits arising from age-related changes in vocal physiology. Singing directly challenges these deficits, which may result in a positive reconstruction of social identity.

Social identity references: Wertsch, 1991. Blumstein et al., 1980. Torre & Barlow, 2009.

Group singing enables exquisite movement synchronization across individuals, spanning the lungs, larynx, head, and facial muscles. Research by our group and others has demonstrated that synchronous movement in the context of song (or dance) causes individuals to be more likely to share, to be more resilient to pain and to feel more socially connected.

Social connectedness references:

  • Müller & Lindenberger, 2011. Thompson & Russo, 2007.
  • Good, Choma & Russo, 2017.
  • Good & Russo, 2016. Dunbar et al., 2012.
  • Weinstein et al., 2016. Wiltermuth & Heath, 2009.
  • Good, Choma & Russo, 2017. McGarry & Russo, 2011.
  • Pearce et al., 2016.
  • Tunçgenç, & Cohen, 2016.
  • Valdesolo, Ouyang, & DeSteno, 2010. 
  • Cohen et al., 2010. Dunbar et al., 2012. 
  • Sullivan, Rickers, & Gammage, 2014. 
  • Weinstein et al., 2016. Dunbar, 2012.

Variables & Measures


Quality of Life Scale

Collective esteem

Anxiety and depression

Social Connectedness

Social and Emotional Loneliness

Perceived Stress

Communication outcomes

  • Vocal acoustic measures (e.g. pitch range, duration of sustained vowels)
  • Hearing measures (e.g. speech-in-noise)
  • Fluency measures (e.g. rate of conversational speech and reading)


Social connectedness

Social closeness


Pain Threshold


  • Salivary Cortisol
  • Salivary Oxytocin
  • Salivary Beta-endrophins
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