Animal Cognition

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 365–372 | Cite as

Influence of theatre hall layout on actors’ and spectators’ emotions

  • A. LemassonEmail author
  • V. André
  • M. Boudard
  • D. Lippi
  • H. Cousillas
  • M. Hausberger
Original Paper


“Audience effect” is the influence of an audience size or composition on the emotional state of a public speaker. One characteristic of the audience which has received little attention is the spatial position of observers. We tested the influence of three positions (frontal, bi-frontal, and quadri-frontal) on actors and spectators’ emotions in real theatrical representations. Measurements consisted in self-report questionnaires and galvanic skin responses. The layout of the theatre hall influenced both cognitive and physiological components of emotions. Actors were more influenced than spectators and showed an overall accuracy in self-perception. The quadri-frontal audience received the highest scores in actors’ feeling assessments and galvanic skin responses. In addition, we found a discrepancy between self-assessment of emotional states by spectators and how actors perceive them. Attention should thus be paid in the layout of performance places with obviously more attention from the public and better feelings for actors in more dispersed settings.


Questionnaires Galvanic skin response Public speech Theatrical representations Audience effect 



We are grateful to the “Théâtre National de Bretagne” for allowing this research with their school of actors. We greatly appreciate the friendly participation of all actors as well as the master student Aurélie Carré. We are grateful to Christophe Lunel and to Antoine L’Azou for their help in the coordination of the project. We thank the cultural department of Rennes 1 University, in particular Marie-Aude Lefeuvre, for making the “Diapason” theatre available to run the experiments. We are grateful to Technicolor for having made available the galvanic Skin Response sensors used during this study. This study was funded by Rennes 1 University, via the “Défis émergent” incentive action and the Cultural service department, as well as by the “Fabrique Autonome des Acteurs” with the support of the Fondation Daniel & Nina Carasso and the French ministry of culture.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed here were in accordance with our national ethical standards and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Our study being only observational no further ethical authorization was requested according to the French law.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Lemasson
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. André
    • 1
  • M. Boudard
    • 1
  • D. Lippi
    • 2
  • H. Cousillas
    • 1
  • M. Hausberger
    • 3
  1. 1.Univ Rennes, Normandie Univ, CNRS, EthoS (Ethologie animale et humaine), UMR 6552RennesFrance
  2. 2.Fabrique Autonome des ActeursMousseyFrance
  3. 3.CNRS, Univ Rennes, Normandie Univ, EthoS (Ethologie animale et humaine), UMR 6552PaimpontFrance

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