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Length of Applause Not Tied To Quality of Presentation 138

sciencehabit writes "The next time you hear extended applause for a performance you didn't think was that great, don't feel like a snob. A new study reveals that audience response has more to do with the people in the seats than those up on stage. Applause, it turns out, is a bit like peer pressure. In a study of college students, individuals were more likely to start clapping if a larger percentage of the audience had already started. If 50% of the audience was clapping, for example, individuals were 10 times more likely to start clapping than if 5% of the audience was clapping. People stop clapping for the same reason. Even more surprising, the applause for a bad presentation could be just as long as applause for a good one. Random interactions in the audience can result in very different lengths of applause regardless of the quality of the talk."
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Length of Applause Not Tied To Quality of Presentation

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  • Re:This just in! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Svippy ( 876087 ) on Thursday June 20, 2013 @05:46AM (#44058613) Homepage

    Like the story about the applause no one dared to finish, after Stalin had spoken. First one to stop clapping was sent to Siberia. Good times.

    Note: There is a good chance this story is entirely false, but since Snopes won't cover it, I'll go with 'it probably happened'.

  • by Andtalath ( 1074376 ) on Thursday June 20, 2013 @06:32AM (#44058803)

    Not all benefits can be fully quantifiable or tangible.

    You never know when weird discoveries can have monumental effects.

    Besides, it's not like there's a lack of research about cancer, HIV and other diseases.

  • by ribuck ( 943217 ) on Thursday June 20, 2013 @06:32AM (#44058805) Homepage

    When I was in my teens, I was watching a circus. Between every act, a cleaner with a broom and a garbage bag would clear any detritus from the ring.

    After a few acts, I clapped this guy, just for a laugh. To my surprise, everyone else joined in. From that point on, until the end of the show, the cleaner got rapturous applause every time!

  • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Thursday June 20, 2013 @08:51AM (#44059499)

    I go to one of the old "mainline" churches. It is a cultural feature there that you are not supposed to applaud performances, as they are (supposedly) done for the glory of God, not self aggrandizement.

    However, it occasionally still happens, which makes it a really interesting study. Our choir director was asked about it, and he said it was his observation that it tended to happen much more often when a peice ends suddenly after a very loud part. His theory was that sudden silence feels out of place, so the parishoners feel the need to fill it with something. After a couple more years of watching it myself, I believe he may be onto something.

    So I would suspect the frequency and volume of applause probably has a lot more to do with how the preceeding piece ended than with they quality of the performance. As a performer, if you want applause, just make sure your final note/line/whatever is as loud as possible!

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.