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A Whole Lot Of Coughing Going On At Classical Concerts

Why do people cough during classical music concerts? Is it a physical reflex, or is there something else going on? WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston takes a look at some research.

Hiccups and sneezes are not standard accompaniments to classical music. But when was the last time a live performance was free of coughing? At a classical music concert, rules of etiquette demand silent immersion in the music - no cell phones or texting of course, no talking, and a limited array of acceptable responses to the performance.

Economics Professor Andreas Wagener, who specializes in social policy at Leibniz University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany, reviews the research and outlines six motives for why there’s more than the usual amount of coughing during classical concerts.

Professor Wagener is the author of Why Do People (Not) Cough in Concerts? (The Economics of Concert Etiquette), published by the Association for Cultural Economics International.