Audiences love seeing athletes and entertainers perform spontaneously, According to our recent researchas impromptu lines, spectacular catches, improvised playlists, and more make the performers seem more real.
We have observed spontaneous preferences for entertainment in several studies. First, we examined dozens of Buzzfeed articles from the past few years about film and TV spontaneity, such as “Here Are 21 TV Moments You Might Not Know AboutArticles about spontaneity garnered almost double the number of comments, likes and shares on social media compared to other Buzzfeed entertainment articles published on the same date.
We also run an online sweepstakes where people can win real, custom relief Greetings from celebrities of their choice. The vast majority of participants (84.1%) wanted their chosen celebrity to record a completely off-the-cuff, off-the-cuff message rather than a scripted personal greeting.
But what causes this preference?
Across various experiments, our results suggest that people are drawn to spontaneity because they believe it allows us to glimpse a performer’s true self.Our findings show that people perceive entertainers to be more sincere, genuine, and authentic when they act spontaneously than when they plan, and authenticity is Highly rated by consumers.
But our research also shows that spontaneity comes at a price: When people act spontaneously, our participants perceive the output as likely to be lower quality, less secure, and more error-prone. For example, while chefs who utilize spontaneity in their cooking may be perceived as more authentic, people may perceive their meals to be less tasty.
Thus, while participants generally preferred moments of spontaneous entertainment, we found that this preference disappeared when money was in the balance. For example, in one of our experiments, when participants gambled real money on a sporting event, they preferred players who stuck to their game plan.
why is it important
American Adults Spend Around 6 hours per day with video-based interactions media and entertainment.Great entertainment often includes spontaneity: think of impromptu TV moments (many most heartache sequence in “Inheritance”), an impromptu concert (The Beatles’ rooftop concert in 1969) and live sports (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ Trademark “flick” pass). Improv-based entertainment, such as improv comedy, reality TV, and jazz solos, continues to stand the test of time.
Our work demonstrates that spontaneity can be a powerful tool for promoting advocacy and engagement and generating positive impressions. Working on a new project? Perhaps allow time for unplanned actions. Promote a new show or product? Consider talking about impromptu behind-the-scenes moments. First date? Maybe resist the urge to plan talking points ahead of time. Acting like yourself can mean poised and inarticulate, but the trade-off is worth it.
In our study, we told participants that performances were either planned or spontaneous, and then gauged their preference. But what if we didn’t tell them which content was improvised?
Going forward, we are interested in understanding whether people can accurately tell by observation whether an action is spontaneous, and if so, how they know it. Are there social or behavioral cues, such as eye contact, spoken language, or strong emotion, that indicate spontaneous action?
Of course, being able to recognize spontaneity as “telling” may raise concerns about spontaneity—and authenticity. can be forged. So another avenue that we’re excited to pursue is understanding the moral and emotional implications of spontaneity of manufacture.