Museum Camp

A project of the
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

JerBears at the Shakedown

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    Poster for our Selected Event

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    Hopeful attendee relying on the help of other "tribe" members to gain admission to the show

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    Affinity attendees proudly displaying their tribal attire

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    Researcher engaging with affinity attendee at the event entrance

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    Affinity attendee proudly displaying tribal attire and green marker bracelet

Team Members

Kirsten Anderson
Scot Sedley
Jill Scheibler
Paula Donnelly
Lis DuBois

What was your hypothesis?

People with a shared affinity/interest in a specific artist are more likely to interact with people that they don’t know at a live music event.

What indicator did you measure?

Interactions with Strangers

How did you measure it?

We used three methods: intercept, engagement and observation.

Our intercept method involved greeting strangers at the door and asking directly why they were at the show. Those who prioritized Jerry Garcia or the Grateful Dead were given a green bracelet, which served as a marker for “tribal” affinity. Pink bracelets were distributed to those who did not prioritize the Grateful Dead or Jerry as their reasons for attending. 38 green bracelets and 5 pink bracelets were distributed.

Three researchers entered the event and engaged with attendees to gauge their level of friendliness on a four-point scale. Both attendees who demonstrated tribal affinity through their attire or through their green bracelet marker, as well as those who did not demonstrate affinity, were approached. 31 attendees were engaged. A Google form on the researchers cell phones was used to record the interactions.

Researchers used a Google form on their cell phones to document observed proxies for our indicator. These proxies included:
• Talking across groups/tables
• Passing of joints
• Talking in the bar line
• Talking in the bathroom line

Lastly, we observed and documented tribal attire using a hand-held clicker. Tribal attire was defined as anything specifically Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia, as well as anything tie-dyed. 44 attendees were documented wearing tribal attire, out of the 150 people confirmed by venue management to be in attendance.

What did you learn?

Those who expressed that they were at the concert for Jerry Garcia or the Grateful Dead and their music, and/or were wearing Jerry Garcia or Dead tribal attire were more likely to self-report having met a stranger at the show.

0% (n = 1) of non-affinity concert-goers had met someone new, while 45.5% (n=11) of affinity concert-goers had. Sample size, particularly the size of the non-affinity group, was too small to make any significant conclusions.

In terms of observations, affinity concert-goers were also more likely to pass a joint (80% of joint-passers demonstrated affinity), and more likely to talk with a stranger in the bathroom line (100% of bathroom-talkers demonstrated affinity), but they were NOT more likely to talk to strangers across groups/tables.

Almost all concert-goers were moderately or very friendly with the researchers (registering a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1-4) when approached, regardless of affinity.

Any surprises?

We went into our research project anticipating that observation would be our largest indicator of willingness to interact with strangers, but that was not our experience. Direct engagement with attendees proved more valuable than observation. Affinity for Jerry Garcia and/or the Grateful Dead made people more likely to approach, but all were welcome to being approached. A challenge in our research was distinguishing between affinity and non-affinity status for those who were not wearing tribal attire. Another challenge was that it was hard to track and engage people who did not have an affinity. There was some aversion to bracelets among identified affinity participants, and definitely among those identified as non-affinity participants. Another unexpected challenge was the degree of difficulty in determining when attendees were a strangers to each other.