Tue, Jul 30, 2013 - Page 10 News List

Clapping reveals applause is a ‘social contagion’

Cuban musician Bebo Valdes claps during his concert in San Sebastian, Spain on July 26, 2003.

Photo: AFP

The quality of a performance does not drive the amount of applause an audience gives, a study suggests.

Instead scientists have found that clapping is contagious, and the length of an ovation is influenced by how other members of the crowd behave.

They say it takes a few people to start clapping for applause to spread through a group, and then just one or two individuals to stop for it to die out.

Lead author Richard Mann, from the University of Uppsala, said:”You can get quite different lengths of applause — even if you have the same quality of performance. This is purely coming from the dynamics of the people in the crowd.”

However, the performance that had been witnessed — no matter how brilliant — had little effect on the duration of the noisy acclaim.

The scientists believe that clapping is a form of “social contagion,” which reveals how ideas and actions gain and lose momentum.

Studying this, they say, could shed light on other areas, such as how trends come in and go out of fashion or how ideas spread on the Internet.

(Liberty Times)










1. die out v. phr.

漸漸停止;滅絕 (jian4 jian4 ting2 zhi3; mie4 jue2)

例: Endangered species are dying out at an alarming rate.


2. acclaim n.

喝采;讚揚 (he4 cai3; zan4 yang2)

例: The artist’s latest works received huge acclaim.


3. go out of fashion v. phr.

退流行;過時 (tui4 liu2 xing2; guo4 shi2)

例: The style of this dress went out of fashion many years ago.


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