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Vol. 21 (2014) No. 2 p. 226-244




How do expert storytelling artists captivate audiences with a single performance? In
study 1, we observed the eyeblink responses of expertized 7 of 20 audience members
(10 male and 10 female, aged 16 to 67 years; M =40.6, SD =16.4) at the performance
of two professional story-telling Rakugo artists. With using a surrogate data method,
the statistically significant synchronization of eyeblinks among audience members was
detected when performers changed scenes and characters and immediately after the
performer delivered words essential to the understanding of the story. In study 2, we
conducted a laboratory experiment with 32 (19 male and 13 female) participants aged
20 to 34 years (M =22.56, SD =2.85) to examine whether the expertise of the story-
teller affected the frequency and intensity of synchronization of eyeblinks by recording
each participant’s eyeblinks. The synchronization of eyeblinks was also detected in this
study that each participant viewed videotapes alone, which eliminated potential au-
dience interaction. The participants who were assigned to the watching a videotaped
performance of an expert storyteller displayed frequent synchronized eyeblinks and had
a higher score of transportation into the narrative world of Rakugo compared to those
were assigned to watch a videotaped performance of a novice. These results imply
that expert performers gain a listener’s unintentional process of attention as well as
somatic-emotional responses, evidenced by synchronized eyeblinks.

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