Does seeing live theatre change us? Does it have benefits beyond pure entertainment?
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology tested the effects of attending live theatre through a survey with theatre-goers of three plays. It found that attending plays increased empathy for people depicted in them and changed people’s political attitudes about a variety of issues related to the play. It also changed behaviour – after attending these plays, people donated more to charity, whether or not these charities were related to the show.
All of these effects were associated with how “transported” people felt by the plays. In other words, the more immersed people were in the stories, the stronger the effects were. More about the study in this Psychology Today article.
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