Savoy Theatre, London

Research finds theatregoers’ hearts synchronise during performances


A study has found that during theatre performances, theatregoers’ heart beats synchronise and beat at the same time, which has been shown to lead to people bonding more. 

The research, which was conducted by neuroscientists from University College London in association with Encore Tickets, looked at the heart rates and skin responses of participants as they watched a performance of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

They found that as well as responding emotionally to the performance as individuals, the audience’s heart beats responded to the show in unison, speeding up and slowing down at the same rate as each other. 

It went on to find that couples and friends continue to have synchronised heart beats during the interval of the show. 

Past studies have shown that in environments that cause bodies to synchronise in this way, people are more likely to bond and like each other. 

Dr Joseph Devlin, head of experimental psychology at University College London, said: “Usually, a group of individuals will each have their own heart rates and rhythms, with little relationship to each other. But during experiences with heightened levels of emotion, people’s heart beats can become synchronised, which in itself is astounding.

“Experiencing the live theatre performance was extraordinary enough to overcome group differences and produce a common physiological experience in the audience members.”

Research has shown that couples and highly effective teammates synchronise their heart beats in time with each other, which has been linked to team performance, trust, empathy and liking each other. It’s suggested that this unified response to live theatre can help break social differences and bring people together. 

In September, it was revealed that sitting through a West End production could have the same impact on the body as undergoing thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise

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