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The Not So Loving Relationship Between Irish Psychology and the Eurovision Song Contest by Derek Laffan

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Derek Laffan Msc, IADT, Psychology Matters Day.
The Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest song contest in the world. Ireland, as a country, has the most wins compared to any other participating country, but in recent years has failed to qualify for the final. This presentation aims to identify and evaluate how psychological factors influence voting behaviour and refers to psychological theory when discussing how Ireland's future performances could be improved.

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The Not So Loving Relationship Between Irish Psychology and the Eurovision Song Contest by Derek Laffan

  1. 1. The Not So Loving Relationship Between Irish Psychology and The Eurovision Song Contest Derek Laffan MSc. (@dereklaffan) #PsychMatters
  2. 2. We are the best at it… But we don’t care about it.
  3. 3. Viewership of approximately 180 million people each year. In 2008 and 2011, a record number of 43 countries participated. Launched and enhanced the careers of many famous artists including ABBA, Celine Dion, Johnny Logan and Bucks Fizz. Ireland have 7 wins - making it the most successful country to ever take part. Ireland won the Eurovision three times in a row in ’92, ’93 and ‘94 – then again in ‘96. Ireland have not won, nor made it into the top 5, ever since 1997.
  4. 4. Ireland and Eurovision The Recent Years
  5. 5. In 2008, 43 countries participated. More countries than ever before. Format change. Introduction of two semi finals. Debut of Azerbaijan and San Marino. In 2004 (Turkey), a semi final event was introduced.
  6. 6. 2008 - Present Year Qualify to Finals Place in Finals Act 2008 No N/A Dustin “Irlande Nil Pointe” 2009 No N/A Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy “Et Cetera”. 2010 Yes 23rd (third last) Niamh Kavanagh “It’s For You”. 2011 Yes 8th Jedward “Lipstick”. 2012 No N/A Jedward “Waterline”. 2013 Yes 25th (last) Ryan Dolan “Only Love Survives”. 2014 No N/A Can-Lin Feat. Kasey Smith “Heartbeats”.
  7. 7. 2008 - Present Year Qualify to Finals Place in Finals Act 2015 No N/A Molly Sterling “Playing With Numbers” 2016 No N/A Nicky Byrne “Sunlight”. 2017 No N/A Brendan Murray “Dying To Try”. 2018 - - Ryan O’ Shaughnessy “Together”.
  8. 8. Factors Influencing Voting Behaviour The ESC (2008) quoted Dustin: “there is direct link between the downturn of the Irish economy and Ireland’s poor performances in the Eurovision in recent years” on the Eurovision website. Economic Factors Geographic Factors “Those countries just vote for each other” Clerides & Stengos (2012) Historical Factors “Sure they were all former Yugoslavia” Cultural Factors “All those countries are into that kinda thing”
  9. 9. Aftermath of Feb 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, Russian Intervention in Ukraine and Crimea Incident. Crowd Booing during the Russian performance and an “LGBT” (Conchita Wurst) win at Eurovision 2014 Political Factors (Andersson & Niedomysl, 2010)
  10. 10. Media Factors
  11. 11. Media Factors
  12. 12. Psychology and Eurovision Performance • Economic, geographic, historical, cultural, media and political factors may be too stable and difficult to manipulate in the context of a performer There are some things that Eurovision acts just cannot control. No matter how “good” they are! But there are things that CAN be in the control of the performers. It is possible that psychological technique may be most effectively applied to the performance factors of Eurovision performances.
  13. 13. Psychological Factors affecting percieved judgement and voting behaviour in Eurovision performances Assimilation Contrast The Mere Exposure Effect Running Order Bias
  14. 14. Assimilation Assimilation = Making a judgement when comparing perceived similar elements among two stimuli E.g. similar performance elements among acts (LGBG theme, ballads, catchy tune etc.) Serbia Montenegro Former Yugoslavia (Mussweiler, 2003)
  15. 15. Contrast Contrast = Making a judgment between perceived explicit differences among two stimuli E.g. contrasting song performances. Russia “Everybody Dance” Finland “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (Mussweiler, 2003)
  16. 16. Mere Exposure Effect Abakoumkin (2011) analysed the results of the Eurovision since the semi final introduction up to 2011: • Countries that participated in a semi final event tended to achieve higher marks in the grand final than the big 5 countries • It was concluded that the familiarity of the acts showcased in a semi final event contributed to the victory of recent Eurovision acts • Zajonc (1968) said that the mere exposure effect, or the familiarity principle, tends to occur when individuals develop a preference for a stimulus because of increased exposure or familiarity with that stimulus. • Verrier (2012) said that countries that do not participate in the semi final event have less chance at winning compared to countries that do.
  17. 17. Running Order Bias • When, and at what stage in the ESC, the performance occurs. • Especially relevant in the Grand Final event itself. • Serial Posititioning Effect. • This may be tested by the Atkinson-Shiffrin (1968) Multistore Model of Memory. • Bruine de Bruin (2005) stated that a later appearance in the Eurovision is associated with a higher final score. • This phenomenon has been termed “Recency”. • Verrier (2012) stated that the recency memory effect may further strengthen the influence of mere exposure. • Spence (2013) stated that the running order of the acts may serve as a significany influential factor in voting behaviour compared to other psychological phenomena.
  18. 18. Running Order Bias
  19. 19. Running Order Bias
  20. 20. 1974
  21. 21. 1988
  22. 22. How Psychology May Improve Ireland’s Future Performances • Staying as a semi finalist is ideal. In order to increase familiarity more favourably among voters, Ireland should remain as a semi finalist • Preferably the 2nd semi final event. • The performance itself should be identifiable with a political or cultural trend in Europe, rather than solely rely on the song to connect with voters.
  23. 23. How Psychology May Improve Ireland’s Future Performances • Staying as a semi finalist is ideal. In order to increase familiarity more favourably among voters, Ireland should remain as a semi finalist • Preferably the 2nd semi final event. • The performance itself should be identifiable with a political or cultural trend in Europe, rather than solely rely on the song to connect with voters. • If not, the performance should be at least memorable because of the performance itself • E.g. Mika Newton and the sand artist for Ukraine 2011. Came 4th.
  24. 24. Ukraine 4th Place 2011
  25. 25. Poland “We are Slavs” 14th Place 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ920cN2HmA
  26. 26. How Psychology May Improve Ireland’s Future Performances • Staying as a semi finalist is ideal. In order to increase familiarity more favourably among voters, Ireland should remain as a semi finalist. • Preferably the 2snd semi final event. • The performance itself should be identifiable with a political or cultural trend in Europe, rather than solely rely on the song to connect with voters. • If not, the performance should be at least memorable because of the performance itself • E.g. Mika Newton and the sand artist for Ukraine 2011. Came 4th. • If our performance reaches the final event, Ireland wants the strategic position of middle or towards the end, to reinforce the recency effect and mere exposure effect. • Going with current trends, Ireland’s 2018 entry may be more successful as an overall performance rather than just a song.
  27. 27. Why does it all matter? … Said the Bearded man in a dress!
  28. 28. Thank you!

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