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Being a Culture Vulture makes for a Happy Vulture

Thu, 26th May 2011

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This week, researchers from Norway have reported that people who take part in or attend ‘cultural’ activities tend to have better physical and mental health. And cultural activities are defined as creative – such as playing music or drawing; and they’re defined as receptive – such as going to the theatre, a museum and watching sport.

Publishing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Koenraad Cuypers and his team sent surveys to tens of thousands of people in a rural region of Norway asking questions about their activities, happiness and perceived health. The researchers then took the results, ran some statistical tests and found this association between cultural activities and health.

Photograph taken of the bust of Homer in the British Museum, London.Cuypers, who’s from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, found that it was especially men in whom this relationship was most apparent. More than females, males reported higher levels of satisfaction, happiness and better perceived health if they took part in the receptive activities such as watching sport or going to a museum.

They also found that people in lower socioeconomic groups were less likely to attend either type of cultural activity, and that women were especially happy if they took part in more creative forms of culture. In addition, people tended to take part in more cultural activities the older they became up until they reached their forties, when it started to decline again.

The researchers stress they can’t identify a causative relationship; they don’t know if a bit of culture makes you happier or if happier/healthier people tend to involve more culture in their lives.

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