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How do people coordinate their thoughts and actions with each other? How does the experience of a play, concert or football match change when it experienced alone, or with thousands of other people? In my research, I address these question match at many different levels.
To study group action, we have developed a system called the Hive, which allows us to study the collective behaviour of large numbers of co-present people. Audience members can use their smart phones or tablets to play games together, make decisions and take part in our experiments. I will demonstrate the system, and show some of our results from a range of experiments revealing how people conform in their opinions, diverge in their judgements, and even aggress against each other.
To study collective experience, we have been using sensors that track physiological changes in audiences watching west end musicals, operas and sat in the cinema. We found that averages heart rates followed the narrative arc of the performance, but also that the temporal coordination between audience members heart rates appears to captured something of the uniquely engaging experience of live performance.