What is it about?

In a majority of cultures around the world, music and dancing (or other forms of synchronized body movement) are closely related. They are at the core of many religious rituals, cultural practices, and different types of sports and exercise. Music and movement are essential for a great Saturday night out, for weddings, live concerts, and clubbing. Psychological groove research investigates the relationship between music and dancing from an experiential perspective. In particular, it asks about the factors that influence to what extent music makes us want to dance. The psychological model of musical groove aims at explaining how our urge to dance relates to the properties of the music itself, to our emotions, to our personal background, and to the listening situation. This study uses Structural Equation Modelling as a statistical method to simultaneously investigate several aspects of the groove model at once. The results of our listening experiment show that listeners are more likely to want to dance when they also feel that the music energizes them, when it gives them joy, when they recognize a regular beat, and when they are familiar with the music. This study is based on the responses of listeners from (mostly) Western countries and music examples from (mostly) Western culture. Further investigations are necessary in order to study whether these results can be generalized to other listener populations and musical repertoires.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Given the ubiquitous presence of music and dancing in human culture and in our daily lives, we might ask ourselves why they are so relevant to us. Music and dance do not feed us, they do not give us shelter, and it is not obvious why we would dedicate time and effort to practice them. Groove research has shown that joint synchronized body movement increases the feeling of bonding between humans, so the music and dancing acts as a social glue within a group. The current study shows that music for dancing has very direct emotional effects on the individuals: it raises their level of subjectively felt energy, and it makes them more joyful. This agrees with observations that humans listen to danceable music in order to relieve symptoms of sadness, lack of energy, and sedentarism, felt by so many during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Why is dancing so much fun? This article hopefully helps us better understand the psychological relationships between music and the urge to dance.

Olivier Senn
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: An SEM approach to validating the psychological model of musical groove., Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance, March 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/xhp0001087.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page