Effects of pitch and speech rate on personal attributions

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Abstract

In 3 experiments, 61 undergraduates listened to recordings of male speakers answering 2 interview questions and rated the speakers on a variety of semantic differential scales. The recordings had been altered so that the pitch of the speakers' voices was raised or lowered by 20% or left at its normal level, and speech rate was expanded or compressed by 30% or left at its normal rate. The results provide clear evidence that listeners use these acoustic properties in making personal attributions to speakers. Speakers with high-pitched voices were judged less truthful, less emphatic, less “potent” (smaller, thinner, faster), and more nervous. Slow-talking speakers were judged less truthful, less fluent, and less persuasive and were seen as more “passive” (slower, colder, passive, weaker) but more “potent.” However, the effects of the acoustic manipulations on personal attributions also depended on the particular question that elicited the response. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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