Contagion of Physiological Correlates of Emotion between Performer and Audience: An Exploratory Study

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Musical and performance experiences are often described as evoking powerful emotions, both in the listener/observer and player/performer. There is a significant body of literature describing these experiences along with related work examining physiological changes in the body during music listening and the physiological correlates of emotional state. However there are still open questions as to how and why, emotional responses may be triggered by a performance, how audiences may be influenced by a performers mental or emotional state and what effect the presence of an audience has on performers. We present a pilot study and some initial findings of our investigations into these questions, utilising a custom software and hardware system we have developed. Although this research is still at a pilot stage, our initial experiments point towards significant correlation between the physiological states of performers and audiences and we here present the system, the experiments and our preliminary data.