Photo of the day

I find this absolutely hilarious:

John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, kisses House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. after being re-elected to a third term during the opening session of the 114th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 6, 2015.Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

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My teaching voice

Really enjoyed this NPR story on the vocal characteristics that make one sound more authoritative.  Especially interesting that when you manipulate a person’s status, that changes their voice:

Sei Jin Ko, a social psychology researcher at San Diego State University, explains that over a hundred college students came in to their lab to have themselves recorded, starting with a recording of their everyday voices.

Then they were asked to imagine a scenario involving the purchase of a new car. Some people were told they were in a position of high power — they had inside information or lots of other offers to choose from. Meanwhile, others were told they had very little power…

It turned out that feelings of power are reflected in people’s voices, says Ko. “When you put them in the situation, their voices change,” says Ko. “I think that’s very, very exciting and quite powerful, shall we say — no pun intended.”

She says the voice of a person given more power was steadier and less singsongy, but also more dynamic “because it increased in pitch and intensity variability, so they went in and out of loudness more than those in low power.”

The link has nice vocal samples from Margaret Thatcher early and later in her political career as well as the reporter herself as a neophyte versus experienced radio journalist.  I suspect my voice is always too high-pitched, but that I generally come across well in intensity variability and not being singsongy.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but think how every now and then my wife asks me to explain something about politics and more often than not, after I’ve been at it a bit she says “you’re using your teaching voice.”  Presumably, I take on more authoritative vocal qualities than in the normal discussions I have with her.  And once she points it out, I can notice the difference.  If you are curious about my “teaching voice” it’s here (and you can even learn some public policy to boot).

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