Live Music Exchange Resources

Why do people (not) cough in concerts? The economics of concert etiquette – Andreas Wagener (2012)


Author(s): Andreas Wagener
Publisher:  ACEI working paper series
Date: December 2012

Abstract: Concert etiquette demands that audiences of classical concerts avoid inept noises such as coughs. Yet, coughing in concerts occurs more frequently than elsewhere, implying a widespread and intentional breach of concert etiquette. Using the toolbox of (behavioural) economics, we study the social costs and benefits of concert etiquette and the motives and implications of individually disobeying such social norms. Both etiquette and its breach arise from the fact that music and its “proper” perception form parts of individual and group identities, convey prestige and status, allow for demarcation and inclusion, produce conformity, and affirm individual and social values.

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