The Eurovision Song Contest manages to elicit feelings of joy like no other musical competition.
Whether you enjoy marvelling over the idiosyncratic nature of the performances or tune in simply to scoff at Graham Norton’s cynical commentary, new research has revealed that there may be a correlation between watching the annual contest and feeling satisfied with your life.
Scientists at Imperial College London conducted a study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, in which they analysed data from more than 160,000 people living in 33 European countries.
The data was collated from a questionnaire that the individuals completed as part of the Eurobarometer survey, which is carried out by the European Commission several times throughout the year.
The participants were asked how satisfied they feel with their lives in addition to other questions, with their answers then compared to how their respective countries fared in the competition or whether they competed at all.
The data that was assessed was gathered around the time of year of Eurovision from 2009 to 2015.
The researchers discovered that people had a four per cent higher probability of feeling satisfied with their lives if their country managed to climb the Eurovision scoreboard by ten places.
Furthermore, individuals had a 13 per cent greater chance of feeling content with their lives if their country competed, as opposed to those that didn’t compete at all.
The study came about as a result of a lighthearted conversation among colleagues at the university.
“This finding emerged from a jokey conversation in our department,” explained Dr Filippos Filippidis, lecturer from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and lead author of the study.
“Our ‘day job’ involves investigating the effect of public policies, environmental factors and economic conditions on people’s lifestyle and health.
“Our department employs people from lots of different countries and around the time of The Eurovision Song Contest we were chatting about whether the competition could also affect a country’s national wellbeing.
“We looked into it and were surprised to see there may be a link.”
While taking part in the competition and scoring a greater number of points was linked to higher life satisfaction, there was no apparent increase for those living in the winning country.
The study demonstrates the influence that large-scale events can have on national morale, a topic that’s been explored in the past.
“Previous work, by other teams around the world, has shown that national events may affect mood and even productivity - for instance research suggests an increase in productivity in the winning city of the US Super Bowl,” said Dr Filippidis.
“Our research shows that science can be used to test unexpected questions, but more importantly we hope it will encourage people to consider how our wellbeing, and consequently our health, can be influenced by a range of factors in the public sphere."
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