|Abstract or Summary
- Interpersonally, power is normally associated with the constructs of dominance and status. However, the current investigation offers a conceptualization of power that has more to do with capturing the impact people have on others rather than it does having control over their fate. In this conceptualization, power is associated with the communicative impact one person has on another regardless of whether it is positive or negative. A mother whose child is comforted by her soothing, “It will be alright, Honey,” can be every bit as powerful as a Dad who commands, “Sit down and be quiet.” In this sense, we define communicative power as the degree to which a person can influence or impact another's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In essence, power relates to the effectiveness of an emotional communicative message being delivered. The current study examined 29 vocal parameters to determine how they influenced perceiver judgments of power. Vocalizations were recorded from 1,700 neutrally worded statements by 189 actors. All participants were given the same 9 statements to read verbatim (e.g., “Is that what you’ve been working on?”). They were instructed to deliver their lines to another person in such a way at to communicate either a positive, negative, or neutral message without changing the statement in any way. These vocalizations were rated by trained research assistant coders for the communicative power of the message. Using the sound analysis program, Praat, precise vocal parameters were extracted from each clip. A statistical analysis showed several parameters correlated strongly with ratings of power. The findings suggest that several vocal cues related to the perception of power in the voice such as the time spent producing random-like sounds instead of actual words (duration of unvoiced speech).