Study: People use 'verbal gestures'

July 24, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've determined people spontaneously use a system of "verbal gestures" when they speak.

University of Chicago scientists say the previously uninvestigated form of communication dubbed "analog acoustic expression" is a kind of verbal gesturing that expands people's capacity to communicate and typically occurs with little intention on the part of the speaker.

Although researchers have long been aware people modulate their speech, psychology Professor Howard Nusbaum said scientists had assumed some modulation was intentional, designed to emphasize points or communicate emotion.

The new discovery, Nusbaum said, is the first experimental evidence showing people unconsciously modulate their voices to provide an additional channel of expression.

"Someone will raise his voice slightly at the end of the sentence when saying, 'the stock market is going up' or lower it when saying 'the stock market is going down,'" said Nusbaum, a co-author of the study and chairman of the university's psychology department. Such modulations also make telephone conversations and words spoken on the radio more comprehensible, he added.

The research appears in the current issue of the Journal of Memory and Language.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Long-sought chiral anomaly detected in crystalline material

September 3, 2015

A study by Princeton researchers presents evidence for a long-sought phenomenon—first theorized in the 1960s and predicted to be found in crystals in 1983—called the "chiral anomaly" in a metallic compound of sodium and ...

Making nanowires from protein and DNA

September 3, 2015

The ability to custom design biological materials such as protein and DNA opens up technological possibilities that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. For example, synthetic structures made of DNA could one day be ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.