The Effects of Participation in Dance on the Attitudes of French Children as Measured by
Nelson D. Neal
Jeanne Marie Dineur
The following article is a reprint from Dance Research Journal, 23/2, (Fall 1991) pages 11-16.
It is generally agreed that attitudes are composed of elements from the affective, behavioral, and
cognitive domains. The affective component has been referred to as a feeling or an emotional
response of liking or disliking, a gut reaction, or sympathetic nervous activity. The behavioral
component includes overt actions or intentions of action, and verbal statements regarding future
behavior. The cognitive component includes knowledge and beliefs of the attitude object that
describe its characteristics, and its relationship to other objects (Breckler, 1984; Katz, 1960;
Morris & Stuckhardt, 1977).
Recent attitude research suggests discriminating between the three domains, either by measuring
each or by specifying which one is the focus of concern. Discrimination may be appropriate
since the three domains are distinguishable from one another and correlation among them are
sometimes moderate (Breckler, 1984). Discrimination among attitudinal domains also appears to
be necessary because it has been found that directing change at any one of the psychological
domains may affect a shift in the other two (Cialdini et al., 1976; Katz 1960) and because
differences between groups of subjects may fall within one or two of the domains rather than all
three (Quattrone, 1985).
Morris and Stuckhardt (1977) write that attitudes have six characteristics: they are learned, they
have a specific social referent, they are interrelated, they are relatively stable and enduring, they
vary in quality and intensity, and they give rise to motivational behavior. The first three are
especially relevant to this study. A social referent may be relating a dance movement, such as a
leg swing forward, to a movement from sport, such as kicking a ball. These social referents
become more specific by using verbal labels, such as "kick," during the demonstration of a dance
movement. During teaching the use of verbal labels enhances the memorization and recall of
specific skills for beginning learners (Magill, 1985; Schmidt, 1982), making it easier to
remember movements that were performed (Lord and Petiot 1985). There is evidence that music
also aids in recall of serial movement sequences in young novice ballet students (Starkes et al.
1987). Whether verbal labels or music are used to enhance recall, it follows that once the
individual can recall experiences or movement skills related to the attitude object, he or she can
then express that attitude (Wood 1982, Wood et at. 1982).
Many non-discriminatory studies of attitudes toward physical activity can be found since the
inception of Kenyon's (1968) attitude questionnaire. His survey was modified by Simon and
Smoll (1974) to study children's attitudes toward physical activity and was later modified by
Schutz, Smoll, and Wood (1981) to assess children's attitudes toward specific sports. It appears
that this same type of development in the study and assessment of attitudes toward specific types
of dance - modern, jazz, ballet, social, or folk - as well as the distinction between psychological
domains in such research is still needed.
In a review of recent literature on attitudes toward dance only three studies were found that had
discriminated between psychological domains; Neal et al. (1986), Neal and Laakso (1987), and
Neal and Fortin (1989). Other studies on children's attitudes toward dance include Allison
(1976), Burton (1977), Halsted (1980), and Neal (1983 and 1985). Reviews of Allison (1976),
Burton (1977), and Halsted (1980), may be found in Neal (1985).
The study by Neal et al. (1986) compared attitudes toward dance of children from four countries.
Findings suggested that the dance attitudes of both boys and girls from Canada, Finland, Italy,
and the United States were significantly different in one or two domains but not in all three.
The 1987 study by Neal and Laakso compared Finnish and American children's attitudes toward
dance and found American boys' posttest scores in the cognitive domain were significantly
higher than those of Finnish boys. Both groups of boys showed significant positive shifts in their
attitude toward dance after participation in the four dance classes between the pretest and the
posttest. The study also found American girls' posttest scores in the cognitive domain were
significantly higher than Finnish girls' scores and that Finnish girls' posttest scores in the
behavioral domain were higher than American girls' scores. There significant positive shifts from
pretest to posttest in all three domains for the American girls, while the Finnish girls showed
significant shifts only in the affective and cognitive domains.
Neal and Fortin (1989) targeted the affective domain during the teaching or exposure phase of
their study. Exposure to dance involved student participation in four specific modern dances over
four consecutive days, and results showed significant positive attitudinal shifts from pretest to
posttest. The subjects were all French Canadian children who had been split into four groups,
three experimental and one control. Those who had direct experience with the male English-
speaking American teacher showed significant shifts in the affective and behavioral domains.
Those who had direct experience with the female French-speaking Canadian teacher showed
significant shifts in the affective and cognitive domains, while those who had direct experience
with the male French-speaking Canadian teacher showed significant shifts only in the affective
domain. No significant shift was found in any domain for the control group. Since all three
teachers taught the dances in the same order with the same music and used the same verbal labels
it appeared that participation in the dance classes had some effect on the subjects' attitudes.
Neal (1985) compared pretest and posttest total dance attitude scores at three distinct times
following four days of teaching modern dance; immediately after, four weeks after, and 17
weeks after participation. Significant differences between the pretest and both the immediate and
four week posttest scores were found, but no significant difference was found between the
pretest and the 17-week posttest scores. The design did not discriminate between he three
domains, which may explain why no significant difference was discovered between he pretest
and the 17-week posttest. Neal (1985) also found no significant difference in dance attitudes
between three groups of subjects who had participated in three different "styles" of dance.
Three of the studies in which Neal was involved (Neal 1985, Neal and Laakso 1987, Neal and
Fortin 1989) used the same attitude instrument (Neal's Dance Attitude Inventory - see
Appendix), teaching methodology, specific dances, and music over a four day period. The main
differences between these studies were the nationality of the children who participated and the
language the teachers spoke during teaching. In all of Neal's studies that have discriminated
between psychological domains a shift in the affective attitudes of the subjects has been present
at the .05 level of significance.
The measurement instrument, Neal's Dance Attitude Inventory (NDAI), is a 30-question
instrument with half of the questions stated positively and half negatively. Using the Chronbah
alpha test (Brown, 1970) the NDAI pretest was found to be internally consistent for Finnish girls
and boys with values of r = .80 and r = .93 respectively, and for American girls and boys with
values of r = .89 and r = .91 respectively. This instrument has been translated into French (with
slight variations between the version used in CAnada and in France), Finnish, and Italian.
The purpose of the current study was to discover if there was a significant difference between
posttest attitude scores of two groups of subjects after one group participated in modern dance
classes. If a significant difference was demonstrated the study also sought to discover in which
domain - affective, behavioral, or cognitive - the difference occurred.
The subjects (N = 196) were girls (n = 94) and boys (n = 102) enrolled in the sixth grade at St.
Michele and St. Marie schools in Solemes, France. The mean age of the girls was 11.7 years, and
of the boys, 12.2 years. None of the subjects had ever been exposed to modern dance prior to this
study. The experimental subjects (n=115) were in five different classrooms, four in St. Michele
and one in St. Marie, while the control subjects (n=81) were in three classrooms at St. Michele
that were different from the experimental group classrooms.
Attitudes of potential subjects were measured by Neal's Dance Attitude Inventory (1985), which
had been translated into French. The French questionnaire was worded so that the meaning and
intent of the statements were not lost in the translation. The NDAI pretest was administered to
potential subjects by their classroom teachers in May of 1989, and the posttest was administered
by the same teachers in June 1989, two days after participation in the dance classes. All 30
questions were scored for the analysis, and any child who did not answer every question was
eliminated from the subject pool. Elimination may have been due to accidentally or purposely
omitting the answer to a question, or to checking two answers for the same question. Each
positive question was scored from four to one and each negative question was scored from one to
four. The total score range was 30-120, with scores of 12-48 in the affective and the cognitive
domains and 6-24 in the behavioral domain. A repeated measures analysis of covariance (SPSS
1986), with the pretest as the covariate, was used to determine results.
Exposure to dance was through direct participation in four 45-minute dance sessions during the
physical education class meetings over a six day period. The 45-minute session allowed the
dance teacher to do a 5-minute follow-the-leader style stretching warm-up for the arms, torso,
and legs, and then teach one of the four dances. The progressive part practice method was used
to teach each dance and enough time was left at the end of each session for subjects to perform
the dance in its entirety. (Progressive part practice involves teaching and practicing part 1
followed by teaching and practicing part 2 and then practicing the two parts as a whole. This
followed by teaching and practicing part 3 and then practicing all three parts as a whole.) All five
experimental groups of subjects were taught by an American who spoke French during the dance
classes. All subjects participated by classroom in learning the same four dances. Although the
movements in all four dances may be categorized as modern dance, the words used to describe
the movements as they were taught were drawn from the vocabulary of either modern dance
(bend, stretch, twist), jazz dance (isolation, jazz hand), or sport (throw, kick, catch). The dances
were taught in the same order, with the same music, using the same terminology and verbal cues
for each dance for each of the five experimental classrooms. Instructions for the four dances that
were taught ("Jazz Dance #1m," "Modern Dance #3," "Sport Dance #1," and "Sport Dance #3")
are described in Neal (1985). The control group consisted of three separate classrooms which did
not participate in or watch any of the dance classes.
Statistical analysis indicates significant differences between posttest scores of the experimental
and control groups in the affective domain (F[1,182]=5.468, p<.02), in the cognitive domain
(F[1,182]=3.971 p<.048), and in total attitude (F[1,182]=6.508, p<.012). There was no
significant difference between posttest scores of the two groups in the behavioral domain. Mean
dance attitude pretest and posttest scores for the experimental and control groups are listed in
Table 1. Table 2 illustrates the significant differences between posttest attitude scores of the two
groups by psychological domain. Mean dance attitude pretest and posttest scores of the
experimental group and control group were changed to percentages and are illustrated in Figure
1. Percentages were used to make domain scores equivalent since the behavioral domain had
fewer questions than the other two domains.
Mean Dance Attitude Scores by Group, and Psychological Domain
PRE POST CHANGE PRE POST CHANGE
AFFECTIVE 40.57 43.36 17.57 18.57 38.00 44.21
BEHAVIORAL 33.73 38.27 14.09 15.54 36.27 38.91
COGNITIVE 37.18 41.00 16.64 16.36 39.36 39.18
TOTAL 38.80 38.04 13.80 15.20 35.00 39.20
Diffenrences in Posttest Mean Dance Attittude Scores of Experimental Group
in Relation to Control Group by Psychological Doamin
AFFECTIVE BEHAVIORAL COGNITIVE TOTAL
EXPERIMENTAL +1.92* +1.11 +1.40* +4.41*
*significam p < .05
The study of children's attitudes toward dance is a relatively new area within attitudinal research,
and domain discrimination is even newer. In the current study, with the affective domain as the
target domain a significant difference in posttest scores between the experimental group and
control group was found in the affective domain as well as the cognitive domain. Also, the
combined scores of these two domains was sufficient to produce a significant difference between
the total dance attitude scores of the two groups. The results from targeting one domain and
finding differences in two domains support the premise of Cialdini et al. (1976) that directing
charge at one of the three domains may affect a shift in the other two. Also, the results of group
differences in two of the three domains follow Quattrone's (1985) premise that significant
differences between groups of subjects may fall within one or two of the domains rather than all
three. The findings of the current study together with the findings of Neal and Fortin (1989)
support the need for domain discrimination in dance attitude research.
Since dancing is a type of physical activity it may be beneficial for researchers in the field of
physical education, as well as dance, to re-examine previous research. It is possible that a re-
analysis of research on children's attitudes toward dance, physical activity, or sport, using
domain discrimination, may provide a clearer, more precise interpretation of the results. It may
be that studies which found no significant differences between the total attitudes of groups of
subjects do in fact have significant findings within one or two of the psychological domains.
One implication for further study is to address the length or number of exposures in which
subjects participate. Since four participation sessions appeared to have some effect on the
subjects' dance attitudes in two domains, perhaps a greater number of exposures lasting more
than four days, would make a difference in all three domain. Although this study did not attempt
to discover how long the attitude shift would last it is possible that the subjects' attitudes may
also endure for an extended period of time as a result of increased exposure, as demonstrated in
Neal (1985). A dance unit of tow to four weeks could allow students time to create their own
dances after learning "the basics" from the teacher. It would be interesting to discover possible
attitudinal differences between teacher-directed and student-directed dance classes.
A second implication from this study might involve a change in who teaches dance to children.
One would be hard pressed to find many physical education teachers who voluntarily teach
dance as part of their physical education program. Although physical education teachers may
state that their students don't like dance or the students' attitudes can't be changed, it may be that
if dance were taught by someone who possesses a positive affective attitude the students may
perceive dance in a different light (Wood et al. 1982). Whether the teacher was a physical
educator or a dance educator would not make any difference as long as the person had a positive
attitude toward the dance style being taught. There are many ways to teach modern, jazz, folk, or
square dance so that it is interesting for students, and the teacher needs to reinforce his/her
positive attitude by making the dance class interesting.
The age of the student is another variable that must be considered when teaching dance. That is,
a teacher might talk like Bill Cosby when challenging second or third graders to try dance
movements, but that method would not work with sixth or seventh grade students. The manner in
which the type of dance is presented to the students may be more important than the type of
dance that is presented.
Further studies might include comparing children's attitudes toward dance between programs in
which dance is taught by specialized dance educators and those in which dance is not taught.
Additional studies could compare programs in which dance is taught by a dance specialist as
opposed to a physical educator. further longitudinal studies should be undertaken to discover if
participation in dance classes has no long-term effects on children's attitudes toward dance.
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Neal's Dance Attitude Inventory
Participants rank each statement on a four-point scale from "agree a lot" to "agree a little," "not
sure," and "disagree."
Questions scored from 4 to 1 are 2-5, 9, 11-12, 16-18, 21-24, and 29. Questions scored from 1 to
4 are 1, -8, 10, 13-15, 19-20, 25-28, 30.
Alphabet letters to the left of each question identify the psychological domain with which it is
associated: A = Affective, B = Behavioral and C = cognitive. Two questions are placed in one of
two domains, depending on whether they are answered by a girl or boy.
C 1. Girls who take dance are not strong.
A 2. Dance is all right for little children.
B 3. All students in school should have a dance class.
C 4. Dance is good exercise.
C 5. Dancing can help build strong muscles.
C 6. Men who teach dance are not strong.
A 7. I would not like having a dancer as a physical education teacher.
A 8. Dancing is only for girls.
C 9. Dance can improve a person's sports skills.
A 10. Dance is a waste of time.
C 11. Dance is similar to sports.
B 12. If I learned a dance I would like to show it to other people.
B/A 13. Girls should not be required to go to a dance program.
A 14. Dance is dumb.
C 15. Dance does not help to keep you healthy.
B 16. If my best friend is taking a dance class, I would take a dance class too.
A 17. Dance is fun.
C 18. Dance is an important part of physical education.
A 19. Men should not teach dance.
A 20. Men who teach dance are sissies.
B 21. I would tell others to take a dance class.
C 22. Dancers are good athletes.
C 23. Dancers have to be in good shape to perform in a concert.
A 24. I would like having a male dancer for a physical education teacher.
B 25. I would take a dance class only when it is required.
C 26. Dancing takes very little energy.
A 27. Only women should teach dance.
A 28. I would never want to be like a dance teacher.
C 29. Boys who take dance are strong.
B/A 30. Boys should not be required to go to a dance program.