Family: Arts versus society?


Does a person’s interest in the arts impact their contribution to society?

Since interest and achievement in the arts often runs in families and is considered an inherited talent, we thought it might be an relevant topic for our readers.

An interesting study from the University of Illinois (Chicago), looked at the relationships between those who sing, dance, draw or act – and concluded that those who do have an altruistic streak.

Altruistic behavior, as measured by the researchers, was determined by answers to such questions by participants as whether they had allowed a stranger to go ahead of them in line, carried a stranger’s belongings, donated blood, given directions to a stranger, lent someone an item of value, returned money to a cashier who had returned too much change, or looked after a neighbor’s pets, plants or mail.

Interest in the arts was defined as visiting museums; attending dance, music, opera and theater events; or making and performing art.

The study’s lead investigator and assistant professor of public administration Kelly LeRoux added, “… participation in the arts, especially as audience, predicted civic engagement, tolerance and altruism.” Generation X respondents, according to the study, were more engaged in society than older people.

The study has implications as budget cuts limit government and school support for the arts.

How do you feel about this story? Has art interest or talent in your family produced better citizens?

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  • Paul Curwood, Australia

    September 14, 2012

    An interest in the arts is almost impossible in this suffocating politically correct consumer society. So, far from producing model citizens, an artist in this society would most likely be perceived as a politically incorrect anarchist!!!! Nevertheless, a person with an artistic disposition probably does owe it to his or her genes. Just don’t expect these genes to produce model or ‘better’ citizens.