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Lexie Thorpe/BPS 2017-8-05
陈明 译

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We adjust the pitch of our voice based on the status of who we’re talking to
来源 Lexie Thorpe/BPS

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In most human societies those with a higher social status enjoy privileges beyond the reach of others. Such status can be obtained through dominance, using intimidation or force, or acquiring prestige by demonstrating knowledge and skill. To make best use of the benefits though, other people need to know that you are top dog.心理学空间XG(kfd7qz9L

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7T/SZy2[2Na0On the other hand, if you’re of a lower status, there are probably times when it pays to avoid challenging those higher up the pecking order. In which case, you might want to convey your recognition of their authority.

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Using body language, such as by taking up more space (adopting “power poses”) may be one of the most obvious, visible modes of asserting ourselves. But of course speech also conveys status, not only in its content, but in the characteristics of the voice itself. Indeed, according to a new study in PLOS One we adjust the pitch of our voice depending on who we are talking to. The research group at the University of Stirling found that the direction of this unconscious vocal tuning depends on the speaker’s perception of their social status relative to the listener.心理学空间N3`y/[b@O.Fp

?(aLU1{ DI2M0使用肢体语言,例如占据更多的空间(采用“力量姿势”),可能是维护我们自己主张最明显、最显著地方式之一。当然,在演讲中传递的优势地位,不仅体现在内容上,还体现在声音本身的特点上。事实上,根据公共科学图书馆的一项新研究,我们会根据谈话的对象的地位来调整声音的音高。斯特林大学的研究小组发现,这种无意识声音调整的方向取决于说话者对听者社会地位的感知。

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Juan David Leongómez and his colleagues recorded students as they took part in simulated interviews for a job as an admin assistant with three different male employers (the order of the interviews was varied between participants). A picture and description of each employer showed one to be highly dominant (Chief of Security at a prison, described as tough and intimidating), another highly prestigious (Head of Department at a Business School, described as well-respected and competent), and a third was neutral (from the HR department at a secondary school, described as your average boss).

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Juan David Leongómez和他的同事们记录了学生们在与三个不同的男性雇主在模拟的情景中面试行政助理职位时的情况(不同参与者的访谈顺序是不同的)。 在第一个场景中,雇主被描述为有着更高的统治地位(将监狱保安队长描述为厉害和有威胁的),另一个有较高的声望(将商学院的系主任描述为德高望重的),第三位是中性的(来自于中学人力资源部的人被描述为你平时的老板的样子)。


!Ny%^DdA+Z0The participants had to introduce themselves to the employer, and explain why they were suited to the job. They were also asked about how they would approach their boss if they had a disagreement with a colleague. After all the interviews, the participants filled out a questionnaire about their own and the employers’ dominance and prestige.

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SR|'jN*Q5I0From the recordings, the researchers calculated the “fundamental frequency” of the participants’ voices (an objective measure of pitch) and tracked variations in their voice pitch as they spoke. A low fundamental frequency would equate to sounding calm and in control, and has been found to be perceived as more dominant in both male and female voices, although the natural sex difference in absolute pitch was accounted for.

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3u:T Y1NVh0研究人员从录音中计算出参与者的声音的基音频率(客观测量的音高),并跟踪他们说话时音调的变化。较低的基音频率意味着沉着冷静和控制,并且发现这在男性和女性的声音中都更具优势,尽管绝对音高的自然性别差异已经被考虑在内。心理学空间}nq-^/X yO_*WS$[

Hd4m*u _J;_&Z0When talking to the highly dominant and prestigious employers, both male and female students who also perceived themselves as more dominant lowered their voice pitch, whilst students who perceived themselves to be less dominant did the opposite. These changes in pitch were most noticeable when the students explained why they were the best candidate and talked about how they would resolve the conflict.




The new findings add to past research showing that lower voice pitch conveys traits related to social status, including physical strength and attractiveness.

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8I&SK g2M@0It seemed that the students’ perception of their own status led them to use different vocal strategies in the interviews with the high-status employers. The students with higher self-perceived dominance may have felt more confident and in control of the situation, and thus more able to compete for the job. Conversely, for those who rated themselves less dominant, and may have felt more intimidated, appearing deferent to the employer may have been a beneficial strategy.心理学空间YG8j _6j/]


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)jL,C\6L)vJ:VN0However, the employers were actually computerised faces created to appear prestigious, dominant or neither, so it’s not clear how these findings would relate to a prestigious employer in real-life, or to a less formal social setting. Mock job interviews have been shown to increase anxiety, and recording the participants’ speech is likely to have increased their stress further, making voice alterations more or less pronounced than usual.心理学空间$NwE7wGr2n



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The real-life implications of the effect are also not known, as the study did not address which group were more likely to be successful in the interview. Whilst being intimidated might not come across well, it’s probably not a good idea to compete with your boss either. CEOs with lower-pitched voices tend to manage larger companies and make more money, but then again, surgeons whose voices were perceived to be higher in dominance, and possibly arrogance, were more likely to have been sued for malpractice. Suffice then to say that, when asserting status, context – and subtlety – is key.心理学空间y:q HT*yiJE

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—Perceived differences in social status between speaker and listener affect the speaker’s vocal characteristics心理学空间(^i*CAtQ6Q:v'L7X


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