How to use your voice to influence others

Posted on April 22, 2016

Photo: flickr

In the study, those who lowered their voice were also seen as more prestigious and admirable by their peers.

Dr Joey Cheng, the study’s first author, said that she is excited by this research as now we know more about how humans use their voices to signal status. She said, "In the past, we focused a lot on posture and tended to neglect things like the voice. But this study clearly shows that there’s something about the voice that’s very interesting and very effective as a channel of dynamically communicating status.”

For the research a group of people were observed while they carried out a group task. Dr Cheng explained previous findings in her lab had shown that using prestige and dominance (both strategies of communicating dominance) positively correlate with behavioral influence.

Although both are effective pathways to getting there, only dominance is about fear and intimidation, and only dominance is related in this study to changes in the pitch of one’s voice. Dr Cheng explains, "how you change your voice does not appear to be related to how much respect you win.”

In a second experiment where people listened to audio recordings only, they found that when the voice in the recording goes down in pitch, people judge the person as wanting to be more influential, more powerful, more intimidating or more domineering. But they don’t think the person is interested in gaining more respect.

Dr Cheng says, "what’s really fascinating about status is that regardless of which groups you look at and what culture and in what context, what inevitably happens is that people divide themselves into leaders and followers, and there’s a hierarchy that’s involved. Our study adds to the evidence that humans, like many other animals, use their voices to signal and assert dominance over others.”

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Source material from PsyBlog

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