According to researchers who studied people’s physiological responses in Eurovision 2022 in eight of the performances, Sweden will be one of the most popular countries in the public vote at tonight’s Eurovision 2022 Song Contest.
Daniel Richardson of University College London and his colleagues sought the help of 75 people, all under the age of 30, to watch eight Eurovision entries: Norway, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Australia, Sweden, and France.
While watching the performances, they kept track of the participants’ heart rates and skin conductance levels. This information was then utilized to forecast how well each of these countries will perform in tonight’s public vote.
The researchers chose six countries because four of them were automatically qualified for the finals due to Eurovision rules, Sweden and Australia have a strong track record of qualifying for the final round, and Poland and Norway were tipped by bookmakers.
Ukraine was left out since it is the runaway favorite this year. “No one would have been impressed if we predicted Ukraine would win,” Richardson says.
The predictions are based on the team’s assumption that the more similar a group of people’s heart rates and skin conductance levels are while watching the same performance, the more engaging that performance must be.
Richardson and his colleagues previously discovered that when people see a live musical together, their heartbeats can be synchronized. Adrenaline stimulates sweating, therefore skin conductance reflects how much someone is sweating.
“Broadly speaking, these measures are measures of arousal,” says Richardson. “But if you’re just looking at whether it goes up and down, you can’t really tell if that’s good or bad.”
Divergent physiological responses throughout a performance, he says, that the act isn’t very engaging.
“When something’s really gripping, everyone’s brains are processing the same stimulus and so you’ll have physiological synchrony,” he says. “Whereas we’re all bored in different ways – someone may be staring at a window, while someone’s going to be kicking their feet, and so they’ll have divergent mental states. Or at least that’s our working hypothesis.”
The researchers discovered that their skin conductance predictions did not match those based on heart rate exactly. Richardson speculates that heart rate similarity may indicate how emotionally engaging performance is, whereas skin conductance may suggest how engaged they are by the narrative of the performance – but he emphasizes that this is still speculative.
“They’re coupled, but only loosely – the truth is we don’t quite know what they tell us just yet,” says Richardson. To make their overall predictions, the researchers simply averaged out the two types of prediction.
Sweden, Australia, and Italy are set to complete first and second, respectively, in the public vote among the countries examined. According to the study, Norway would receive the lowest score.
The team intends to use the results of Eurovision 2022 to improve predictions for next year by refining the way such data is analyzed.
“I love this study so much,” says Sarah Garfinkel at University College London. “I think the authors have been really brave putting their predictions out there like this.”
“I think studies like this can highlight the biology of empathy and show the true essence of human nature,” she says. “We are a social species.”
Garfinkel won’t say whether the team’s predictions will be correct, but she thinks their approach has merit. “I’m really confident that they’re on the right track,” she says.
Who will win Eurovision 2022 public vote?
Predictions were based on heart rate and skin conductance measurements taken by 75 people while watching eight Eurovision 2022 entries. Ukraine was removed from the list.
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