Determining Mental State from Tone of Voice Part 2

In our previous blog post, we discussed the possibility of determining someone’s mental state by just hearing 30 seconds of audio.

While ideally, it would be great to see their body language, gestures and other nonverbal behavior, this is not always possible.

Its important to understand that in order to completely understand someone’s mental state, you will need to baseline the person, even though its through audio. What this means is that you will need to determine what their normal rate of speech is, how they answer questions, their tone of voice, speed in which they answer the question, etc is when they are asked non-threatening questions.

From there, notice deviations from that baseline. Do they stutter a lot more when answering? Do they take a much longer time to answer than normal? Does their tone of voice change? These are all questions you can ask yourself when listening to audio.

Take a listen to the example below. Its an interview with Elizabeth Edwards on NPR.

Listen to about the first 2 minutes of the interview- Edwards is a little choppy in her speaking, but answers the questions fairly quickly and fluidly.

Now fast forward to about 6:30 when Edwards is asked about John Edward’s daughter, Trinity, whom he had with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Notice the dramatic change in the tone of voice, speech, her stuttering, and length of answer. Her mental state is clearly not the same as it was previously.

6 responses to “Determining Mental State from Tone of Voice Part 2”

  1. Markus says:

    I cant listen. It ┬┤just says “Loading media player, initilazing…” Is there somewhere else you can listen to it?

  2. Markus, sorry for the inconvenience. Please try to listen from this page: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103895496

  3. omar says:

    Without undermining the importance of establishing a baseline with any sort of behavioral analysis, I find it interesting what can be said of a natural human baseline, that is, for example with speech, a natural way that all humans might say something and then, more specifically all men or all women or all children, etc.

  4. Keith D. says:

    Markus, if that doesn’t work for you, the player also should have a download link at the bottom center to download the mp3 file. If that’s missing for you, it links here and perhaps that will work: http://npr.vo.llnwd.net/kip0/_pxn=0+_pxK=17273/anon.npr-mp3/npr/atc/2009/05/20090507_atc_18.mp3?orgId=1&topicId=1032&aggIds=100876926&dl=1

  5. Markus says:

    I have listend now. Tanks Admin and Keith. I like thees real life examples.

  6. David says:

    That was great. Very marked difference between the “baseline” in the first few minutes and the piece at 6:30. I notice this a lot with people when they are pressed for information like a military interrogation. But, you’d never really pick it up without first obtaining some kind of “baseline” on the individual. Great example!

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