People who experience arts more likely to donate to charity – new research
Engaging with the arts makes people more likely to give to charity or volunteer, psychologists have claimed.
New research into the connections between the arts and ‘prosociality’ – whereby individuals are likely to donate their time or money to charitable causes – found the arts can act as a “key psychological catalyst” for social cooperation.
Conducted by psychologists at the University of Kent, the research surveyed people across the UK, finding that the arts had a stronger connection to prosociality than other demographic variables, including gender, personal income, core personality traits, such as openness, and sports engagement.
Arts participation and attendance were among the strongest predictors for charity and volunteer work, however age and monthly savings still had larger impacts on charitable giving, while a person’s working hours and educational level most affect their likelihood of volunteering.
Despite this, researchers Dominic Abrams and Julie Van de Vyver said the study’s results around arts engagement could have implications for policymakers in that they could be used as evidence of the social and economic gains of investing in the arts.
They added that these could be achieved “by policies or investments that make the arts more widely available and ensure that access is not restricted only to the wealthy”.
The research was supported by grants from Arts Council England and the Economic and Social Research Council.
Arts Council director of communication and public policy, Mags Patten, added: “This paper makes a significant contribution to growing evidence of a causal link between taking part in the arts, individual well-being and the strength of communities.
“This valuable piece of research will be important reading for those already studying in this vital area, and it should encourage new studies of the social impact of the arts.”