Evaluational consequences of speech rate, language intensity, gender, and powerful/powerless speech styles

Ann Heaton Hawkins

Abstract

This dissertation extended the body of research existing on powerful and powerless speech styles by examining speech rate and speaker gender in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 extended the body of research existing on language intensity by examining the effects of language intensity, respondent gender, and message context on speaker evaluations. Undergraduate participants in Experiment 1 listened to one of 12 audiotaped messages manipulated by power of speech style, speaker gender, and speech rate. Participants evaluated the speakers on competence, social attractiveness, and dynamism using Likert-type scales. Results indicated that power of speech style could act to influence speaker evaluations in a way that alters the findings of previous studies. Gender interacted with power of speech style and speech rate on attributions of competence. In Experiment 2 undergraduate participants either listened to one of eight audiotaped messages manipulated by language intensity and speaker gender or read written messages manipulated by language intensity and writer gender. Participants evaluated the speakers and writers on competence, social attractiveness, and dynamism. Results indicated that a speaker using a low-intensity message in the oral context was evaluated significantly higher on social attractiveness than a speaker using the same message in the written context. Also, in the oral context, a speaker using a low-intensity message was evaluated significantly higher on social attractiveness than a speaker using a high-intensity message. Implications for communication accommodation theory and information processing theory were discussed. Finally, four clear directions for future research were advanced. First, emerging from this study is a need for more research in the area of power of speech style and speech rate. Second, previous researchers have not included dynamism as a dimension when studying listener perceptions of speakers. Third, there is a need for more research combining the effects of language intensity and power of speech style on speaker evaluation. Finally, there is also a need for further research in the area of language intensity and speech rate.