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The arts as a catalyst for human prosociality and cooperation

Van de Vyver, J.; Abrams, D.

The arts as a catalyst for human prosociality and cooperation Thumbnail


D. Abrams


We tested the hypothesis that engagement in the arts may act as a catalyst that promotes prosocial cooperation. Using “Understanding Society” data (a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 30,476 people in the UK), we find that beyond major personality traits, demographic variables, wealth, education, and engagement in other social activity (sports), people’s greater engagement with the arts predicts greater prosociality (volunteering and charitable giving) over a period of 2 years. The predictive effect of prosociality on subsequent arts engagement is significantly weaker. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the arts provide an important vehicle for facilitating a cohesive and sustainable society. Fostering a society in which engagement in the arts is encouraged and accessible to all may provide an important counter to economic, cultural, and political fracture and division.


Van de Vyver, J., & Abrams, D. (2018). The arts as a catalyst for human prosociality and cooperation. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9(6), 664-674.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 13, 2017
Online Publication Date Aug 2, 2017
Publication Date Aug 31, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 6, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2018
Journal Social Psychological and Personality Science
Print ISSN 1948-5506
Electronic ISSN 1948-5514
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 6
Pages 664-674
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Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (230 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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