Robotic voices designed to manipulate – Subliminal Messages – Brief Article

Courtney Bennett

We befriend, hire and fall in love with people who remind us of ourselves. And apparently we decide whether or not to remain on hold with the automated bank teller for the same reason. New research reveals that people respond to the personality cues in computer-generated speech just as they would to flesh-and-blood individuals: Extroverts prefer ebullient computer voices, while introverts gravitate toward a quieter cadence.

Clifford Nass, Ph.D., a professor of communications at Stanford University, and postdoctoral student Kwan Min Lee found that people categorize computer-generated voices based on cues such as loudness and speech rate. The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

We are drawn to our robotic coevals by the “similarity-attraction principle,” a consistent pattern in social psychology. “We like things that are similar to us,” Nass explains. “And those feelings create a `halo’ effect that makes the things we like seem smarter and more trustworthy.” Even if they are 100 percent mechanical.

When it comes to advertising, consumers want the medium to match the message. Seventy-two subjects who listened to extroverted and introverted synthetic voices and read identical book reviews were more likely to buy the book if the synthesized voice’s personality matched their own.

Finally, in a mock online auction Nass manipulated both the synthetic voice’s personality and the description of an item from Tiffany & Company. “This is a reproduction of one of the most famous pieces of Tiffany stained glass. The colors are absolutely sensational!” cooed an outgoing, over-the-top voice. The introverted version demurely introduced “a reproduction of a Tiffany stained-glass piece. The colors are quite rich.” The items were identical, but subjects were more likely to buy a product when the voice and product description were in sync.

Nass expresses concern about advertisers manipulating this technology: “Just as you respond to other tricks that advertisers have up their sleeve, being aware seems to be the best defense.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

You May Also Like

Bad Girls

Bad Girls – women criminals Barry Yeoman Violence by women has skyrocketed in the latter part of this century. Have they’ taken “wo…

Hip-hop’s bad rap

Hip-hop’s bad rap Rebecca Leigh Fox Whether music negatively affects behavior has been debated from Elvis to Eminem. Now, a Canadia…

Shrinking Disaster – psychologists cross borders to treat disaster, war victims

Shrinking Disaster – psychologists cross borders to treat disaster, war victims – Brief Article Todd Sloan Newspapers and magazines…

Girls Make the Grade

Girls Make the Grade – Brief Article E.C. Studies undertaken from the 1950s to the 1980s revealed that girls avoided success in sc…