Social cohesion

Social cohesion

Participation in the arts may promote prosocial behaviours e.g. volunteering, attending community meetings.

Arts participation can raise awareness and change public attitudes e.g. on climate change.

For marginalised groups, cultural engagement might be an effective tool for finding voice, identity and recognition. 

Arts and cultural participation can help healing after traumatic societal events.

Reading literary fiction improves Theory of Mind compared to reading nonfiction, pop fiction or nothing at all. Teenagers engaging with literature go through a process of “identification and evaluation” which helps shape understanding of themselves.


  • The causal nexus between arts participation and prosocial behaviours is unclear

  • In some instances, listening to music from a particular culture can be divisive and reinforce cultural differences.

  • Culture can also be a negative force in inter-group conflicts.


E. Grossi et al. (2012) “The interaction between culture, health and psychological wellbeing: data mining from the Italian culture and wellbeing project,” Journal of Happiness Studies 13: 129-148.

S. Tsegaye et al (2016) Everything We Know About Whether and How the Arts Improve Lives, Createquity.

G. Crossick & P. Kaszynska (2016) Understanding the value of arts & culture: The AHRC cultural value project, London: Arts & Humanities Research Council.

B. Kisida et al. (2016) “Measuring Critical Thinking: Results From an Art Museum Field Trip Experiment,” Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 9(1): 171-187.