Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Some people go to classical concerts to cough

Classical concerts comes with a set of very strict rules for the public: you cannot applaud while the music plays (the only exception being after opera arias), you are supposed to dress up, and there should be complete silence from the audience during the performance. And that urge to cough should be repressed until an applause. Yet, it turns out that coughing is more frequent during the performance.

Andreas Wagener ponders from an economic angle this apparent voluntary breach of concert etiquette. Norms at concerts are supposed to create conformity. Concerts are, to some extend, also a venue where you want to be seen. Being against the norm in subtle ways make you more remarkable. Parading naked would certainly get you noticed, but in a bad way. Coughing at the wrong moment also gets you noticed, but you can be excused unless you dared to go to the concert with a severe case of whooping cough. The cougher can always blame it on a bodily reflex that is unexpected and cannot be controlled. At it looks like the empirical evidence shows coughing is more prevalent in quiet moments of the concerts, when the benefit of coughing is the highest.

Concert halls will be packed in this flu season.

1 comment:

Blake R said...

In other news, subjects given the instruction "Do not think about white elephants" thought about white elephants at a far greater than normal rate. Thoughts are, to a large degree, voluntary. Therefore, subjects' choice to think of white elephants and flaunt expectations was presumably to signal their independence and status.