Voice Influences Perception of Intellect

A new study suggests verbal communication is more powerful than written words when a person is trying to sell themselves.

University of Chicago researchers found that when hypothetical employers and professional recruiters listened to or read job candidates’ job qualifications, they rated the candidates as more competent, thoughtful, and intelligent when they heard the pitch than when they read it.

Remarkably, this perception was evident even when the words used were exactly the same.

Dr. Nicholas Epley and Ph.D. candidate Juliana Schroeder found the opinion led to a more favorable impression of the candidate and a greater interest in hiring them.

However, the addition of video did not influence evaluations beyond hearing the candidate’s voice, the researchers note.

“In addition to communicating the contents of one’s mind, like specific thoughts and beliefs, a person’s speech conveys their fundamental capacity to think — the capacity for reasoning, thoughtfulness, and intellect,” said Epley.

The new study will be published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Psychological Science.

Researchers used a series of experiments to evaluate a group of MBA students short pitch to the company for which they would most like to work. The students created written pitches and spoken pitches (videotaped).

In an initial experiment, a separate group of evaluators judged the spoken pitches by either watching or listening to the video recording, listening to the audio only, or reading a transcript of the pitch.

The evaluators who heard the pitch subsequently rated the candidate as more intelligent, thoughtful, and competent than the evaluators who only read a transcript of the pitch.

Surprisingly, evaluators who watched the video pitch did not rate any differently than those who heard the pitch. In fact, evaluators who heard the pitch reported liking the candidate more and reported being significantly more likely to hire that person.

In another experiment, the evaluators who listened to trained actors reading job candidates’ written pitches out loud believed those candidates were more intelligent and wanted to hire them more than the evaluators who read candidates’ own written pitches.

Even professional recruiters (who recruit candidates from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business) were more likely to hire the candidates whose pitches they could hear than those whose pitches they read.

Epley concludes: “When conveying intelligence, it’s important for one’s voice to be heard — literally.”

Source: University of Chicago/EurekAlert