Continuous and collective measures of real-time audience engagement

Millman, L.S. Merritt; Richardson, Daniel C. and Orgs, Guido. 2022. Continuous and collective measures of real-time audience engagement. In: Matthew Reason; Lynne Conner; Katya Johanson and Ben Walmsley, eds. Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 293-307. ISBN 9780367470753 [Book Section]

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The performing arts are temporal arts. Experiencing dance, music and theatre is a dynamic process that occurs over time and is often shared between groups of people. The continuous and collective nature of the experience of any live performance poses unique challenges to a quantitative or neuroscientific approach to audience research. This chapter reviews the latest methodological approaches and techniques to quantify audience engagement in real-time and across multiple spectators. Three levels of real-time measures of audience engagement are discussed, including continuous behavioural, psychophysiological and brain signals. All three levels can be used to measure what spectators do and feel – both individually and collectively – with a view to providing insights into the neurocognitive mechanisms that are at play when people engage with the performing arts. These measures complement, rather than substitute, traditional methodologies such as qualitative interviews, questionnaires, audience observation and phenomenology. The chapter discusses the chances and challenges of these new audience research tools and reviews key studies that employ these methods across a range of performance situations.

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“This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in the Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts on 5 April 2022, available online: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.”

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5 April 2022Published

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04 Apr 2022 13:01

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10 Nov 2022 10:29


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