Inside voices please! There’s more reason to keep level-headed when in an argument with your partner. Recent research shows that the tone of voice you use to communicate with your partner can predict marital success.
“What you say is not the only thing that matters; it’s very important how you say it,” said University of California doctoral student Md Nasir in a press release. “Our study confirms that it holds for a couple’s relationship as well.”
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of Interspeech, involved recording hundreds of conversations from more than 100 couples during marriage therapy sessions over two years time. Then, the researchers continued to track the couple’s marital status for the next five years.
The core of the research involved a computer algorithm developed by the researchers that “broke the recordings into acoustic features using speech-processing techniques such as pitch, intensity, 'jitter' and 'shimmer,' along with tracking warbles in the voice that can indicate moments of high emotion,” said the release.
The program was also checked for accuracy by testing it “against behavioral analyses made by human experts who had coded them for positive qualities like 'acceptance' or negative qualities like 'blame,'” added the report.
The algorithm allowed the researchers to assess the impact of one partner’s tone of voice upon the other predicting whether or not their relationship was getting weaker or stronger.
“It’s not just about studying your emotions,” said lead researcher Shrikanth Narayanan. “It’s about studying the impact of what your partner says on your emotions.”
When arguing with your spouse, it helps to focus on fixing the problem rather than trying to win the argument. Susan Heitler, P.h.D. wrote for the Good Therapy saying that positivity helps ease tension.
“Positivity in tone of voice, actions such as hugs and smiles, and in words, makes communication flow more smoothly and affection grow more amply,” Heitler wrote. “Positivity enables partners to feel more relaxed with each other, which also helps them to feel flexible and eager to be responsive to each other’s concerns.”
Sources: Nov. 25, 2015. "Sticks and stones: Words can deceive — tone of voice cannot". usc.edu Nov. 28, 2015. "It’s not what you said, it really is how you said it, new study finds". deseretnews.com