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Spectral Analysis of Candidates' Nonverbal Vocal Communication: Predicting U.S. Presidential Election Outcomes

Stanford W. Gregory Jr. and Timothy J. Gallagher
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 65, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 298-308
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090125
Page Count: 11
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Spectral Analysis of Candidates' Nonverbal Vocal Communication: Predicting U.S. Presidential Election Outcomes
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Abstract

Fast Fourier Transform acoustic analysis of the fundamental frequency of candidates' voices in 19 nationally televised U.S. presidential debates from the eight elections including debates held since 1960, in conjunction with subsequent factor analysis, shows that this nonverbal frequency, below .5 kHz, can reveal the debating candidates' relative social dominance. Further analysis presents evidence that the candidates' nonverbal vocalizations offer a precise metric of their relative dominance or commanding presence in the presidential campaign: when this metric is compared statistically with the candidates' popular vote percentages for the U.S. presidency, it accurately predicts the popular vote outcomes in all of those eight elections.

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