Our Presidential Candidates All Sound the Same

New research shows they're saying different things in basically the same way
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2016 6:35 PM CDT
Our Presidential Candidates All Sound the Same
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks, probably with an absolutely huge range of pitches, during a campaign rally Thursday in California.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Think there aren't a lot of similarities between a Trump speech and a Clinton speech? Think again. Rosario Signorello, who's spent two years studying what makes for charismatic speech, analyzed 36 speeches from Trump, Clinton, Sanders, and Fiorina, according to a press release. He found that politicians sound the same even when what they're saying varies wildly. The Los Angeles Times reports Signorello looked at the fundamental frequency, or pitch, of the candidates' speech during political rallies, addresses to politicians, and nonpolitical talk shows. It turns out, all four candidates changed their pitch patterns depending on their audience in pretty much the exact same ways.

During political rallies, the candidates used a wide range of frequencies. Signorello tells the Atlantic that's because the candidates had to appeal to a diverse crowd. “At a Hillary Clinton rally, people might expect a masculine leader, a charming one, others might expect an authoritarian leader,” he says. But while they're addressing politicians, the candidates used lower pitches. This is a technique used elsewhere in the mammalian world to show dominance. Finally, during talk shows, the candidates tended to use their natural voices with normal pitch ranges. But there were some individual "quirks." Clinton and Fiorina lowered their natural pitches in front of crowds, while Trump raised his. And Sanders had the widest range of pitches. (Here's why people in hot climates use fewer consonants in their speech.)

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