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Theater Much Like Good Marketing Can Boost Empathy and Pro-Social Behaviors
Theater Much Like Good Marketing Can Boost Empathy and Pro-Social Behaviors

Theater Much Like Good Marketing Can Boost Empathy and Pro-Social Behaviors

Researched in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Volume 95, July 2021, 104138

Watch this quick 30-second Clip Created by the Theater Educators at Carnegie Mellon University

Leslie Odom Jr., Tina Fey, Jessie Mueller, and More from the Theatrical World Speak to the Theater of Empathy


The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology recently decided to take on the theatrical art form and make it the center of an experiment that called up the question, “Does Live Theater Make Those That Witness It More Empathetic? The answer was yes.

The researchers directed three field studies in which they surveyed 1,622 theatre audience members either immediately before or immediately after seeing a live theatre production. The participants completed a measure of their attitudes towards racial bias, income disparity, welfare, corporate statutes, wealth redistribution, and affirmative action. Assessments of empathy and charitable giving were also taken from the same crop.

Highlights from The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s Theater and Empathy Experiment:

  • Seeing theatre increased empathy and changed people’s socio-political beliefs.
  • Audience members donated more to charity after seeing theatre.
  • These effects correlated with how transported audience members felt by the plays.

What does Theatrical Empathy have to do with Alexei Orlov?

Alexie Orlov has always been a strong supporter of the idea of Applied Empathy as a verifiably successful tool to use as a brand activating marketer to understand the brand you are working with and even more so, to truly get in touch with the brand’s target audience. Through applied empathy, a marketer can get to the heart, to the center of a brand’s purpose, and then use that knowledge to create campaigns that will be fulfilling and emotionally stimulating for that brand’s core audience.

If Alexei Orlov has used these ideas in professional marketing and brand activating settings with so much success, then it must be true that other creative professional mediums like the theatre must utilize a form of empathy in order to reach out to their customers too.

Local Projects

The same feelings of uploaded empathy can occur during many of the experiential design displays that we see Local Projects, acquired by Alexei Orlov and MTM recently, uses technological and physical design elements to pull onlookers into the dynamic display on hand and to utilize the five senses of an audience member to dig that emotional well and stir that empathy up in them. Local Projects and the work they do is innately theatrical in every way possible, so it is not shocking that experiential design does evoke so many emotions and mirror aspects of the theatrical landscape so closely.

Evoking Empathy Through Dynamic Brand Activating Campaigns

Just as in the marketing and brand activation world, Theater is about the people and when you focus on your target audience (and for the theater it would most likely be those faces that actors see out in the audience every night) you can increase the level of empathy for the social demographic that the show is about and make people feel more. This is the very same with smart, well-designed marketing campaigns, when you build the brand’s architecture correctly and with the core audience of that brand in mind, EMPATHY will simply and naturally positively affect your ability to reach across the aisle and make your target customer a customer of your brand for life.

To check out the study findings from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology…

Attending live theatre improves empathy, changes attitudes, and leads to pro-social behavior

Read the article that inspired this conversation…

One Last Wonderful Quote on Empathy

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