Monday, July 1, 2013

On Social Contagion

aka The Clap

Clapping reveals applause is a 'social contagion'
Rebecca Morelle, BBC, 18 June 2013

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.

"The pressure comes from the volume of clapping in the room rather than what your neighbour sitting next to you is doing," explained Dr Richard Mann, from the University of Uppsala.

"You have this social pressure to start (clapping), but once you've started there's an equally strong social pressure not to stop, until someone initiates that stopping."

The Swedish study is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Emotional response to climate change influences whether we seek or avoid further information May 15, 2013

Yang says, "Our key variables of interest were 'information seeking' and 'information avoidance.'

Those who had negative feelings toward climate change – feelings marked by states of fear, depression, anxiety, etc., – actively sought more information about climate change. They also saw climate change as having serious risks, and considered their current knowledge about it insufficient.

Those driven by a positive affect toward climate change – an emotional state marked by hopefulness, excitement, happiness, etc. – actively avoided exposure to additional information on the issue. They also said climate change presented little risk to nature and humans, and they viewed their knowledge about climate change as sufficient.

Our social environment has the potential to strongly influence whether we seek or avoid climate change information. This, the researchers say, may be because we are most often around people who agree with us about important issues, reinforce our perception of risk and support or discourage further action.

The study, "What, Me Worry? The Role of Affect in Information Seeking and Avoidance" was conducted by Z. Janet Yang, PhD, assistant professor of communication at UB, and Lee Ann Kahlor, PhD, associate professor of public relations and advertising at UT Austin. It was published in the April 2013 issue of the journal Science Communication.

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