Politicians with hoarse voices win more votes

Margaret Thatcher's remarkable success at the ballot box may have been partially due to her distinctive voice, according to a new study. 

Experts looked at whether voters could be swayed by the way politicians speak.  

They found that politicians whose voices were hoarse, flat or slow received a better response from the public than those who had a different speech pattern. 

They believe this is because they are perceived as wiser and more competent than those who have a high-pitched voice.  

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Margaret Thatcher's remarkable success at the ballot box may have been partially due to her distinctive voice, according to a new study. The research found politicians whose voices were hoarse, flat or slow received a better response from the public than those who didn't

Margaret Thatcher's remarkable success at the ballot box may have been partially due to her distinctive voice, according to a new study. The research found politicians whose voices were hoarse, flat or slow received a better response from the public than those who didn't

THE STUDY 

The team examined two cases – Umberto Bossi, former leader of the Italian Lega Nord party, whose vocal cords were partially paralysed by a stroke, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, whose larynx has disturbed functionality due to throat cancer.

Both of these disorders cause the politicians' voices to become lowers slower and hoarser. 

In the study, the researchers assessed several charismatic adjectives with a French audience who didn't understand either Bossi or da Silva's languages. 

The audience were asked which vocal stimuli they would vote for.

Surprisingly, the audience preferred the leaders' post-disorder voices.

Dr Signorello said: 'French people didn't want to vote for someone who was strong and authoritarian, or perceived as a younger version of the leader.'

But the trend was variable, the researchers highlight.

Researchers from the University Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris looked at the effect of vocal disorders on politicians' success.

In the study, the team examined two cases – Umberto Bossi, former leader of the Italian Lega Nord party, whose vocal cords were partially paralysed by a stroke, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, whose larynx has disturbed functionality due to throat cancer.

Both of these disorders cause the politicians' vocal range to narrow, and their pitch to lower.

Their voices have also become hoarse and slow, with a restricted ability to modulate pitch.

Dr Rosario Signorello, co-author of the study, said: 'We use pitch manipulation to be ironic and sarcastic, to change the meaning of a sentence.

'Before the stroke, people perceived Bossi as positive, enthusiastic, a very charming speaker, and when listening to his post-stroke voice, everything changed.

'After the stroke, he had a flat pitch contour, a lack of modulation, and this was perceived as a wise and competent charisma.'

In the study, the researchers assessed several charismatic adjectives with a French audience who didn't understand either Bossi or da Silva's languages.

Dr Signorello said: 'Whenever you listen to a voice you assess the acoustics, but also what they say, and we didn't want the verbal, semantic content to influence our results.'

The audience were asked which vocal stimuli they would vote for.

Mr Bossi's disorder causes his vocal range to narrow, and pitch to lower
Mr da Silva's voice has become hoarse and slow, with a restricted ability to modulate pitch

The team examined two cases – Umberto Bossi (pictured left), former leader of the Italian Lega Nord party, whose vocal cords were partially paralysed by a stroke, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (pictured right), former president of Brazil, whose larynx has disturbed functionality due to throat cancer

ROBOT POLITICIANS 

A recent survey conducted by OpenText found that people living in the UK believe that robot politicians could revolutionise their country. 

Of the 2,000 people interviewed, one in four felt that robots would make better politicians. 

And 66 percent believe they will have a position in government by 2037 – 16% foresee it happening in the next one to two years.

35% that do not think it will be possible for robots to get into government, as they do not posses the ability to analyze 'cultural aspects' in order to make decisions.

Surprisingly, the audience preferred the leaders' post-disorder voices.

Dr Signorello said: 'French people didn't want to vote for someone who was strong and authoritarian, or perceived as a younger version of the leader.'

But the trend was variable, the researchers highlight.

Dr Signorello added: 'In each example the vocal patterns are so diverse you never find the same answers; all trigger different emotional states and convey different personality traits.'

The results suggest that there is no 'best' voice for a politician to have.

Dr Signorello said: 'Charisma is a social phenomenon, difficult to assess because it is subject to social trends.

'It's impossible to give a recipe of what is more or less charismatic - it's like fashion, it changes drastically with time.' 

The team now plans to extend the study to vocal disorders of female politicians.