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Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino: The Effects of Music and Partner

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The present study examines the emotional and hormonal responses to tango dancing and the specific influences of the presence of music and partner on these responses. Twenty-two tango dancers were assessed within four conditions, in which the presence of music and a dance partner while dancing were varied in a 2 × 2 design. Before each condition and 5 minutes thereafter, participants provided salivary samples for analysis of cortisol and testosterone concentrations and completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. The data suggest that motion with a partner to music has more positive effects on emotional state than motion without music or without a partner. Moreover, decreases of cortisol concentrations were found with the presence of music, whereas increases of testosterone levels were associated with the presence of a partner. The authors' work gives evidence of short-term positive psychobiological reactions after tango dancing and contributes to understanding the differential influence of music and partner.
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DOI: 10.1177/1943862109335064
2009 1: 14Music and Medicine
Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, Stephan Bongard and Gunter Kreutz
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino: The Effects of Music and Partner
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Emotional and Neurohumoral
Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino:
The Effects of Music and Partner
Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, MSc,
1
Stephan Bongard, PhD,
1
and
Gunter Kreutz, PhD
2
The present study examines the emotional and hormonal
responses to tango dancing and the specific influe nces of
the presence of music and partner on these responses.
Twenty-two tango dancers were assessed within four
conditions, in which the presence of music and a dance
partner while dancing were varied in a 2 2design.
Before each condition and 5 minutes thereafter, partici-
pants provided salivary samples for analysis of cortisol
and testosterone concentrations and completed the Pos-
itive and Negative Affect Schedule. The data suggest that
motion with a partner to music has more positive effects
on emotional state than motion without music or without
a partner. Moreover, decreases of cortisol concentrations
were found with the presence of music, whereas
increases of testosterone levels were associated with the
presence of a partner. The authors’ work gives evidence
of short-term positive psychobiological reactions after
tango dancing and contributes to understanding the
differential influence of music and partner.
Keywords: dance; music; emotional state; cortisol;
testosterone
M
usical behaviors and their influence on
subjective and biological variables have
been long-standing topics of empirical
research (Bartlett, 1996). Specifically, psychobiolo-
gical effects have been investigated in response to
music listening (e.g., Gerra et al., 1998) and singing
(e.g., Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, &
Grebe, 2004). In the present study, we are interested
in the influences of music and partner on subjective
and neurohumoral parameters in partnered dance.
Dancing is a form of musical behavior that
involves the coordination of intentional rhythmical
movements to music stimulation. In recent times,
there has been growing interest in the investigation
of dancing as a potential behavior that actively pro-
motes improvement of people’s health. For example,
positive psychological changes with respect to stress
and anxiety in response to dancing have been shown
for healthy individuals (e.g., Leste
´
& Rust, 1990). In
clinical contexts, benefits of dancing have been
investigated as a complement in the treatment of
mental disorders (e.g., Habousch, Floyd, Caron,
LaSota, & Alvarez, 2006) and physical complaints
(e.g., Hackney, Kantorovich, & Earhart, 2007).
Thus, there appears to be some initial evidence
indicating positive effects of dance activities on emo-
tional state and well-being. However, the specific
psychophysiological effects elicited by dancing as
well as the influences of key variables mediating
these effects are presently unknown. For example,
although dance can, in principle, be performed with-
out sound, music appears to be integral to the dance
experience. Moreover, many, if not most, forms of
dance involve the physical contact and coordination
of movement patterns between different individuals.
Therefore, it seems likely that the presence of music
and partner is essential to the psychophysiological
effects of dancing. To address these factors, the pres-
ent study examines changes in emotional state, cor-
tisol, and testosterone in response to dance under
the influence of presence versus absence of music
and partner.
1
Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
2
Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg
Address correspondence to: Cynthia Quiroga Murcia,
Department of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt am
Main, P.O. Box 11 19 32, D-60054 Frankfurt am Main,
Germany; e-mail: Quiroga@psych.uni-frankfurt.de
Date received: January 9, 2009; accepted: March 3, 2009.
Music and Medicine
Volume 1 Number 1
July 2009 14-21
# 2009 The Author(s)
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Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal
cortex and is involved in responses to physical and
emotional stress (Kirschbaum & Hellhammer,
1994). Several studies have demonstrated that
stressful events elicit increases in cortisol levels
(e.g., Van Eck, Berkhof, Nicolson, & Sulon, 1996),
which have been implicated in several illness pro-
cesses (e.g., Charmandari, Tsigos, & Chrousos,
2005). Likewise, studies indicate an association
between positive psychological functioning and low-
ered cortisol release as a positive indicator of health
(e.g., Lindfors & Lundberg, 2002).
There is a growing body of literature, which evi-
dences that music can affect cortisol concentrations.
However, it seems that decreases in cortisol levels
following listening to music may be moderated by
musical style (Mo
¨
ckel et al., 1994). Studies have
reported decreases in this hormone after subjects
listened to classical or meditative music (e.g., Kreutz
et al., 2004), whereas in other studies, increased cor-
tisol levels have been found after listening to fast
music (e.g., Gerra et al., 1998). In medical settings,
the use of music stimulation has also proven to be
effective in improving mood and reducing cortisol
concentrations in patients undergoing a variety of
clinical interventions, ranging from surgery (e.g.,
Nilsson, Unosson, & Rawal, 2005) to oncology
(e.g., Burns, Harbuz, Hucklebridge, & Bunt, 2001).
Singing, as a form of more active musical beha-
vior, has also been shown to affect cortisol changes.
However, specific variables, such as the level of
involvement (professional vs. amateur) and the
performance situation (rehearsal vs. public concert),
appear to influence these changes (e.g., Beck,
Cesario, Yousefi, & Enamoto, 1999; Grape, Sandg-
ren, Hansson, Ericson, & Theorell, 2003).
Studies evaluating neuroendocrine responses
after dancing are rare. Rohleder, Beulen, Chen,
Wolf, and Kirschbaum (2007) examined cortisol
changes after competitive ballroom dancing. The
authors found that competitive dancing led to eleva-
tions of cortisol that were elicited by the social-
evaluative performance stressor. In another study,
cortisol increases were found after 90 min of an
African dance class (West, Otte, Geher, Johnson,
& Mohr, 2004). To date, no studies have been found
that have addressed the effects of social partnered
dancing on cortisol responses.
Testosterone is another hormone that seems to
influence importa nt aspects of life. The largest amounts
of testosterone are released by the Leydig cells of the
testes in men. It is also produced in far smaller quan-
tities in the adrenal cortex and ovaries of females.
Primarily functioning as a male sex hormone, testoster-
one has been implicated in the development of mascu-
line physical characteristics, as well as a spectrum of
social behaviors including social dominance (e.g.,
Mazur & Booth, 1998) and bonding (Roney, Mahler,
& Maestripieri, 2003). For example, with respect to
associations between testosterone changes and social
bonding, significant increases of testosterone have been
found in males after short social interactions with
women (Roney et al., 2003; Van der Meij, Buunk, Van
de Sance, & Salvador, 2008).
Empirical work addressing the effects of music
on testosterone appears to be more limited. Fukui
(2001) examined the testosterone concentrations in
male and female students before and after listening
to music. The author observed that testosterone con-
centrations significantly decreased in males after lis-
tening, while concentrations significantly increased
in females. At present, there appear to be no studies
that have assessed the effects of partnered dance on
testosterone in healthy adults.
The purpose of the present study was to analyze
the effects of tango dancing on emotional state, cor-
tisol, and testosterone. Specifically, the differential
contributions of presence versus absence of music
and partner to these parameters were investigated.
Tango argentino is a form of partnered dance that,
nowadays, is practiced in many cities worldwide. The
most important characteristic of tango argentino is
the necessary physical contact between partners and
the high levels of sensitivity required to improvise
complex combinations of figures and steps in a close
embrace. Consistent with previous research, we
expected improved emotional state and lower cortisol
levels when dancing to music. Furthermore, we
expected improved emotional states and increased
testosterone concentrations when dancing with a
partner. However, the combination of music and part-
ner, as it is realized in regular tango dancing, was
assumed to lead to greater positive effects on emo-
tional state, cortisol, and testosterone than when dan-
cing without partner or without music.
Method
Participants
Twenty-two individuals, 11 males and 11 females,
with at least 1 year of tango dancing experience,
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango / Quiroga Murcia et al. 15
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participated in this study after giving written informed
consent. Mean age of the participants was 43.09 years
(SD ¼ 8.03 years), with a range of 30 to 56 years.
Most participants enrolled together with the part-
ner of their choice, with the exception of 4 people (2
females and 2 males), who registered alone and met
each other as dance partners at the beginning of this
study. All volunteers received a free tango class fol-
lowing each session as compensation for successful
participation. The study was carried out in accor-
dance with the Declaration of Helsinki principles.
Materials
The emotional state was measured using the German
adaptation of the 20-item Positive and Negative
Affect Schedule (PANAS; Krohne, Egloff, Kohl-
mann, & Tausch, 1996; Watson, Clarck, & Tellegan,
1988). Cortisol and testosterone concentrations
were assessed by using salivary samples.
Research Design and Procedure
This study consisted of four experimental conditions,
which were carried out weekly on consecutive Sunday
evenings. The tested experimental conditions were (1)
regular tango dancing (with partner and with music),
(2) ‘‘dancing’’ with partner but without music,(3)
‘‘dancing’ without partner but with music, and (4)
moving without partner and without music.
In both conditions of dancing with music, the
same pieces of music were used, and in both condi-
tions of dancing with a partner, participants danced
with the same partner. To control the effects of the cir-
cadian rhythm influences on salivary hormones, data
of all experimental sessions were always collected at
the same time of day, between 1930 and 2030 hours.
In every session, the participants were assigned to one
of the four conditions. Each condition lasted 20 min-
utes. At the beginning and about 5 minutes after the
dance condition, participants completed the PANAS
inventory and gave the saliva samples. The salivary
analysis was conducted at the lab of Prof. Dr. C.
Kirschbaum at the Technical University of Dresden.
The intra- and interassay coefficients of variance were
below 10%, indicating that the degree of accuracy of
the lab analysis was satisfactory.
Statistical Analysis
For data analysis, SPSS 12.0 for Windows was used.
Because of the anticipation of an unknown situation,
the scores measured at the first session, correspond-
ing to the condition of regular tango dancing (with
partner and with music), might appear greater in
strength. In order to control for this beginning
effect, the first condition was repeated in a fifth ses-
sion at the end of the study. Scores obtained for the
first and the fifth session were aggregated, and the
resulting means then represented the condition of
regular tango dancing (with partner and with music)
in further statistical analyses together with the other
three conditions.
First, the four conditions were compared for
baseline differences using analysis of variance
(ANOVA) for repeated measures. Due to the fact
that baseline values differed for some of the vari-
ables, we conducted subsequent analyses on
response values, namely, calculating the differences
between pretreatment and posttreatment values.
Afterwards, ANOVAs for repeated measures
were conducted based on a 2 (Partner: with partner
vs. without partner) 2 (Music: with music vs. with-
out music) design. Dependent variables were
response values (posttreatment minus pretreatment
values) of emotional (positive affect and negative
affect) and hormonal measures (cortisol and testos-
terone). In case significant interaction effects were
found, subsequent pairwise comparisons between
the four conditions were conducted. In addition,
pre- to posttreatment changes were assessed in each
condition using pairwise t-test comparisons.
Results
Baseline
Comparisons of baselines of dependent variables in
the four conditions revealed significant differences
in two of the measured variables (see Table 1). For
positive affect, the baseline’s mean value of the con-
dition of moving without partner and without music
was significantly lower than those of both the condi-
tion of regular tango dancing (with partner and with
music), t(21) ¼ 2.96, p < .01, and the condition of
dancing with partner but without music, t(21) ¼
3.23, p < .01. For testosterone, the baseline’s mean
value in the condition dancing with partner but with-
out music was significantly lower than the baselines
of all other conditions: the regular tango dancing
(with partner and with music), t(19) ¼ 2.61, p <
.05; dancing without partner but with music, t(19)
16 Music and Medicine / Vol. 1, No. 1, July 2009
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¼ 2.79, p < .05; and moving without partner and
without music, t(19) ¼ 2.76, p < .05.
Positive and Negative Affect
The ANOVA for positive affect indicated a signifi-
cant interaction between Partner and Music, F(1,
21) ¼ 5.06, p < .05, partial
2
¼ .19. Post hoc anal-
ysis revealed significant differences in the positive
affect changes between the regular tango dancing
(with partner and with music) condition and the
other three conditions: t(21) ¼ 2.31, p < .05; t(21)
¼ 4.38, p < .001; t(21) ¼ 2.63, p < .05, respectively.
Furthermore, direct comparisons of pretreatment
and posttreatment values by means of paired t tests
indicated a significant increase in positive affect
scores only for the condition of regular tango dan-
cing (with partner and with music) (M ¼ 0.68, SD
¼ 0.37), t(21) ¼ 8.57, p < .001, but not for the other
three conditions, all p > .05 (see Figure 1).
With regard to the ANOVA for the negative
affect scores, neither a significant effect nor an inter-
action between Partner and Music was found. Pair-
wise comparisons of baseline and posttreatment
values showed a significant decrease of negative
affect only after the conditions of regular tango dan-
cing (with partner and with music) (M ¼ –0.15, SD
¼ 0.26), t(21) ¼ 2.73, p < .05, and moving without
partner and without music (M ¼ –0.10, SD ¼
0.19), t(21) ¼ 2.40, p < .05 (see Figure 1).
Cortisol
The ANOVA for the cortisol concentrations indi-
cated a significant main effect for Music, F(1, 19)
¼ 5.45, p < .05, partial
2
¼ .22, and an interaction
effect between Partner and Music, F(1, 19) ¼
4.11, p < .05, partial
2
¼ .18. The main effect of
music suggests that there were stronger decreases
of cortisol in the music than in the no-music condi-
tions (M ¼ –0.62 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.60; and M ¼
–0.30 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.61, respectively). Post hoc
analyses revealed a significant difference between the
conditions of regular tango dancing (with partner
with music) (M ¼ –0.80 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.82) and
dancing with partner but without music (M ¼
–0.29 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.88), t(19) ¼ 3.11, p ¼ .006.
Pairwise comparisons of baseline and posttreatment
values show that cortisol decreased in all conditions,
except when dancing with partner but without music,
with the strongest reduction of cortisol in the
Figure 1. Positive and negative affect changes during the four
experimental dance conditions. þP þM ¼ with partner with
music; þP M ¼ with partner without music; P þM ¼ without
partner with music; P M ¼ without partner without music.
Table 1. Means (and Standard Deviations) of Baseline Values for Positive and Negative Affect, Salivary Cortisol,
and Salivary Testosterone in the Four Conditions
Condition
With Partner and
With Music
With Partner and
Without Music
Without Partner and
With Music
Without Partner and
Without Music
n M SD M SD M SD M SD
Positive affect 22 2.50
a
0.51 2.58
a
0.48 2.30
a,b
0.60 2.10
b
0.68
Negative affect 22 1.30 0.26 1.21 0.19 1.32 0.29 1.19 0.26
Cortisol (nmol/L) 20 3.71 1.32 3.21 2.95 2.98 2.34 2.84 1.42
Testosterone (pg/ml) 20 21.40
a
13.18 18.27
b
10.79 22.31
a
13.17 24.43
a
16.85
Means in the row that do not share subscripts differ at p < .05.
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango / Quiroga Murcia et al. 17
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condition of the regular tango dancing (with partner
with music), t(19) ¼ 4.33, p < .001. Figure 2 shows
the changes in cortisol concentrations for each
condition.
Testosterone
The ANOVA for the testosterone changes showed a
significant main effect of Partner, F(1, 19) ¼ 4.55,
p<.05, partial
2
¼ .19, and a significant interaction
between Partner and Music, F(1, 19) ¼ 4.38, p<
.05, partial
2
¼ .19. The main effect of Partner sug-
gests that increases of testosterone levels were signif-
icantly higher in the partner than in the no-partner
conditions (M ¼ 2.66 pg/ml, SD ¼ 4.45; and M ¼
–0.260 pg/ml, SD ¼ 4.23, respectively).
Post hoc analyses showed a significant differ-
ence between the conditions of dancing with partner
but without music (M ¼ 4.15 pg/ml, SD ¼ 5.88) and
moving without partner and without music (M ¼
–1.45 pg/ml, SD ¼ 6.95), p < .05.
However, unlike the other dependent variables,
the course of testosterone concentrations was differ-
ent between Sessions 1 and 5, when the condition of
regular tango dancing (with partner and with music)
was implemented. In the first session, a significant
increase of testosterone was shown (M ¼ 4.06 pg/ml,
SD ¼ 5.77), t(19) ¼ 3.15, p < .01, while in the fifth
session, by contrast, no change was found (M ¼
–1.76 pg/ml, SD ¼ 7.19), t(19) ¼ 1.10, p ¼ .29,
which suggests an influence of order of session.
ANOVA with only the testosterone changes of the
first session for the condition of dancing with part-
ner and with music evidenced a significant main
effect of Partner, F(1, 19) ¼ 10.19, p < .01, partial
2
¼ .35. Furthermore, the same significant increase
of testosterone after both the condition of dancing
with partner and with music (Session 1) and the con-
dition of dancing with partner but without music was
found, t(19) ¼ 3.15, p < .01. Table 2 displays the
means and standard deviations of testosterone values
before and after each session as well as the calcu-
lated differences (posttreatment minus pretreatment
values). Males and females differ in the amount of
testosterone concentrations, although no gender dif-
ferences concerning the course of hormonal change
were found in any of the conditions.
Discussion
The present study examined the emotional and hor-
monal effects of a particular form of partnered
dance, tango argentino. Specifically, changes of
emotional state and hormonal markers, namely, cor-
tisol and testosterone, were investigated across four
conditions that included dancing in the presence
versus in the absence of a partner and music.
We found evidence that the regular tango dan-
cing (with partner and with music) led to significant
increases of positive affect and to reductions of neg-
ative affect. These results corroborate previous work,
which showed improvements of self-reported emo-
tional state and well-being in response to dancing
in studies addressing a range of social groups and
dance styles (e.g., Leste
´
& Rust, 1990; West et al.,
2004).
Concerning the first of our two biological mea-
sures, we observed that regular tango dancing (with
partner and with music) led to significant decreases
in salivary cortisol concentrations. This effect was
further influenced by the music stimulation but not
by the presence of a dance partner. Previous work
has shown that music listening can have a decreasing
effect on cortisol levels (e.g., Kreutz et al., 2004;
Mo
¨
ckel et al., 1994). Our data suggest that this
effect extends to a more active musical behavior.
It is worth noting that usually cortisol decreases
during the course of the day as part of its circadian
rhythm. However, the circadian rhythm of cortisol
cannot serve as an explanation for the effects found
in the present study, because the saliva samples were
always taken at the same time of the day for all
Figure 2. Salivary cortisol changes during the four experi-
mental dance conditions. þP þM ¼ with partner with music;
þP M ¼ with partner without music; P þM ¼ without
partner with music; P M ¼ without partner without music.
18 Music and Medicine / Vol. 1, No. 1, July 2009
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conditions, and we found the decreases to be signif-
icantly different between the conditions.
Our results contrast with the f indings of West
et al. (2004), who o bserved significant increases
rather than decreases of cortisol in dancers of
African rhythms over a 90-min period. The African
dancing seems to be a more vigorous activity t hat,
therefore, could have involved greater physical
effort t han was the case in our tango dance classes.
It has been shown that a physical activity leads to
increases in cortisol levels, if it exceeds certain
thresholds. For instance, when exercising with
55% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO
2max
), an exer-
cise duration beyond 80 min is sufficient to a ctivate
the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (Tremblay,
Copeland, & Va n Helder, 2005). On the other
hand, tango dancing appears to be a moderate activ-
ity. According to Peidro et al. (2002), the VO
2
dur-
ing tango dancing is between 46% and 55% of
VO
2max
. Thus, the physical strain required by tango
dancing during 20 min is probably not sufficient to
elicit increases in c ortisol levels.
The results in this study also differ from the find-
ings of Rohleder et al. (2007). The authors examined
the cortisol changes in ballroom dancers in a
competitive situation and found increases of cortisol
levels. These increases were furthermore explained
not by the physical strain but by the psychological
stress of the social evaluative threat situation. In
contrast, the present study was not designed to eval-
uate dancing as a competition but rather the social
leisure dance activity. Therefore, participants in our
study most likely learn to dance predominantly for
pleasure and enjoyment.
Finally, significant effects of partnered dance on
testosterone changes were observed, but no gender
effects were found to influence these changes. In
traditional tango, gender roles appear to be strongly
differentiated in that the man leads and suggests the
direction, form, and tempo of the figures, while
the woman interprets and follows his movement
impulses. However, it should be noted that in pres-
ent times, the traditionally passive role of the ‘‘dom-
inated’’ woman is being changed into a more active
role, following a more balanced interplay within the
couple. This fact might reflect the similar testoster-
one responses in both males and females. On the
other hand, the differential effects that Fukui
(2001) found in males and females after passive
listening to music (testosterone increase in women,
Table 2. Means (and Standard Deviations) of Salivary Testosterone Values Before and After Each Condition and
Differences Between Pretreatment and Posttreatment Values
Testosterone (pg/ml)
Pretreatment Posttreatment Differences
Dance Condition MSDM SD MSD
With partner and with music 21.40 14.18 22.55 14.51 1.15 5.85
Males 33.55 8.16 35.10 11.46
Females 11.46 5.96 12.28 6.08
Session 1 20.73 2.76 24.78 3.45 4.06
a
5.77
Males 30.90 9.69 36.26 14.23
Females 12.40 6.79 15.40 8.72
Session 5 22.07 15.14 20.31 14.39 –1.17 7.19
Males 36.20 9.67 33.94 9.58
Females 10.52 5.89 9.15 3.96
With partner and without music 18.27 2.41 22.41 2.94 4.15
a
5.88
Males 27.96 6.71 32.77 10.57
Females 10.34 5.62 13.94 7.99
Without partner and with music 22.31 2.94 23.23 3.29 0.92 4.16
Males 33.19 10.65 35.60 11.32
Females 13.41 6.70 13.11 7.72
Without partner and without music 24.43 3.77 22.99 3.9 –1.45 6.96
Males 37.52 15.87 36.71 17.50
Females 13.73 7.60 11.77 4.85
a
Testosterone concentrations after both the condition of dancing with partner and with music (Session 1) and the condition of
dancing with partner but without music were significantly higher than the baselines values, t(19) ¼ 3.15, p < .01.
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango / Quiroga Murcia et al. 19
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decrease in males) do not seem to occur when music
is accompanied by body movement.
We found partial confirmation of our working
hypothesis that partnered dance leads to increases
of testosterone. This hypothesis was based on the
idea that the exposure to the physical proximity of
the partners elicits testosterone increases (Roney
et al., 2003). In particular, we found the expected
increase of testosterone concentrations when dan-
cing in couples within the first and the second ses-
sions only, but there was no increase when the first
condition was repeated in the fifth session. The fact
that the fifth session was also the last and was thus
associated with the prospect of the end of the study
and the free tango lessons, might have had the
potential to moderate the reactive testosterone
increases elicited when dancing with the partner.
Until n ow, no studies have addressed the possible
confounding influence of social environment
changes on this hormone, such as the implications
of a last session after repeated measu res, as was the
case in our study. The impact of the presence of a
partner on testosterone concentrations, when mea-
sured after several repeated occasions, remains also
to be explored in further studies.
Due to the small number of subjects, these
results should be interpreted with some caution.
Replications of our findings with tango dancers with
different demographic and cultural background, as
well as with samples representing other dancing
styles, using similar methods as this study, are
mandatory. Variables relating to the nature of the
dance—couple or solo dance, (un)familiarity
between partners, movement intensity, musical fea-
tures, and length of the activity—need to be consid-
ered in future research.
In summary, we found that tango dancing can be
seen as an antistress behavior capable of producing
short-term positive psychophysiological changes.
Moreover, our results show that both the presence
of music and the physical contact with a partner
differentially influence the related emotional and
hormonal responses to dancing. In particular, it was
shown that decreases in cortisol were more strongly
related to music stimulation, while increases in tes-
tosterone were, in part, related to the presence of a
partner. These results suggest that our psychophy-
siological approach appears efficient in addressing
significant areas of mental and physical well-being
and health in relation to dance. More psychophysio-
logical approaches are needed to establish a firm
empirical basis for those intervention programs that
use dancing for promoting health and well-being.
Acknowledgments
This article was part of the research conducted for a
doctoral thesis at the Goethe University of Frankfurt
am Main. The authors gratefully acknowledge the
Vereinigung von Freunden und Fo
¨
rderern der Goethe
Universita
¨
t for providing financial support. Grateful
thanks are also given to the Academia de Tango in
Frankfurt am Main, which allowed us to carry out
the experimental phase in its dancing localities. The
corresponding author expresses her gratitude to the
DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) for
supporting her research stay in Germany.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors have declared that there are no conflicts
of interests in the authorship and publication of this
contribution.
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Cynthia Quiroga Murcia is a PhD candidate in the Department
of Psychology, Unit for Individual Differences & Psychological
Assessment, at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
Stephan Bongard is a professor in the Department of Psychol-
ogy, Unit for Individual Differences & Psychological Assess-
ment, at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
Gunter Kreutz is a professor of systematic musicology at the
Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg.
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango / Quiroga Murcia et al. 21
at University of Sheffield on May 4, 2014mmd.sagepub.comDownloaded from
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The assessment of cortisol in saliva has proven a valid and reliable reflection of the respective unbound hormone in blood. To date, assessment of cortisol in saliva is a widely accepted and frequently employed method in psychoneuroendocrinology. Due to several advantages over blood cortisol analyses (e.g., stress-free sampling, laboratory independence, lower costs) saliva cortisol assessment can be the method of choice in basic research and clinical environments. The determination of cortisol in saliva can facilitate stress studies including newborns and infants and replace blood sampling for diagnostic endocrine tests like the dexamethasone suppression test. The present paper provides an up-to-date overview of recent methodological developments, novel applications as well as a discussion of possible future applications of salivary cortisol determination.
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A variety of studies reported psychological and physiological effects of music. Different types of music have been found to induce different neuroendocrine changes. The aim of the present experiment was to investigate the possible combination of emotional and endocrine changes in response to techno-music and to define personality variables as predictors of respective changes. Sixteen psychosomatically healthy subjects (18- to 19-year-olds, eight males and eight females) were exposed, in random order, to techno-music or to classical music (30 min each). Plasma norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (EPI), growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) cortisol (CORT), beta-endorphin (beta-EP) concentrations and changes of emotional state were measured in basal conditions and after the experimental trials with two different types of music. Techno-music was associated with a significant increase in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and significant changes in self-rated emotional states. A significant increase was observed in beta-EP, ACTH, NE, GH and CORT after listening to techno-music. Classical music induced an improvement in emotional state, but no significant changes in hormonal concentrations. No differences between male and female subjects' responses to music have been found. Plasma levels of PRL and EPI were unaffected by techno- and classical music. Changes in emotional state and NE, beta-EP and GH responses to techno-music correlated negatively with harm avoidance scores and positively with the novelty-seeking temperament score on the Cloninger scale. Listening to techno-music induces changes in neurotransmitters, peptides and hormonal reactions, related to mental state and emotional involvement: personality traits and temperament may influence the wide inter-individual variability in response to music.