Cultural participation and resilience

Behavioral Insights Germany and Saudi Arabia

Can cultural participation make us more resilient during times of crises? In a recent study, Annie Tubadji (2021) tries to shed light on this question. Using data from an online survey conducted in the first year of the pandemic in several countries, she examines the relationship between culture, happiness and pro-sociality.

Controlling for various effects, her analysis reveals two main findings: first, participation in cultural activities during the pandemic led to a significant increase in (self-reported) pro-social behaviors among respondents. Second, participation in cultural activities before the pandemic resulted in higher individual levels of happiness during the pandemic, i.e., cultural participation in the past prevented a decline in mental health during the current crisis.

Tubadji’s study highlights that culture has positive effects at both the individual and the societal level. Policymakers should thus focus on a) encouraging more people to partake in cultural activities and b) making cultural activities more accessible, especially for people at risk of mental health problems.

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