Matching and Mismatching Vocal Affect with Message Content
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Two experiments examined the influence of affective vocal qualities on attitude change according to the degree of congruency between vocal qualities and the message content (i.e., the extent to which the vocal qualities matched the intent of the message content). In Experiment 1, the design was a 2 (attitude formation: affective base vs. cognitive base) x 4 (persuasive message: fully matched vs. partially matched vs. fully mismatched vs. written passage) between participants factorial. In the initial phase, an attitude was created towards a novel object. This goal was accomplished by directing each participant to read either an emotionally evocative passage or an informational passage designed to produce favorable attitudes towards a fictitious animal called a lemphur (Crites, Fabrigar, & Petty, 1994). In the persuasion phase of Experiment 1, participants were exposed to a negative affective message designed to elicit fear. The results indicated the degree of attitude change produced by the fully matched vocal quality (i.e., a fearful voice) was no different relative to the written passage. However, both the partially matched (i.e., a bored voice) and fully mismatched vocal qualities (i.e., a content voice) generated significantly more attitude change than both the written passage as well as fear. In Experiment 2, the attitude formation phase was similar to that of Experiment 1. However, in the persuasion phase of Experiment 2, the focus was on messages that were cognitive in their content. Specifically, participants were exposed to a negative cognitive message designed to convey negative characteristics of the target. The data revealed the degree of attitude change generated by the fully mismatched vocal quality (i.e., an excited voice) was significantly greater than the written passage as well as both the partially matched (i.e., a fearful voice), and fully matched (i.e., an emotionless voice) vocal qualities. No further differences between vocal qualities were found.