Impact of salient vocal qualities on causal attribution for a speaker's behavior

Janet Robinson, Leslie Z. McArthur
1982 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology  
Considerable research has demonstrated an illusory causation effect in which visually salient people are perceived as more causal of events in a social interaction than their nonsalient counterparts. The present studies extended this work to the realm of auditory salience. Two determinants of auditory salience were manipulated-the intensity of a speaker's voice and the sex of a speaker's voice. As predicted, subjects attended more to a 75-dB (A) than to a 70-dB voice on a binaural listening
more » ... aural listening test, and subjects attributed more causality to an actor in a two-person conversation when his voice was 75 dB in intensity than when it was 70 dB. Contrary to expectation, subjects did not attend more to the voice whose sex matched their own on the binaural listening test. Rather, all subjects listened more to the actor with the male voice. Consistent with this tendency for the male voice to be more salient, subjects attributed more causality to an actor when the voice was-male than when it had been electronically converted to a female voice of the same intensity and intonation. Vocal salience also influenced subjects' impressions of the actors, but it had no impact on recall of the actors' verbalizations. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.43.2.236 fatcat:z7fau633b5fuhotz6agfuzfpfu