Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stress Levels Detected In Human Voice

Research Study On Stress Level
Detected in the Human Voice
The University of Florida in Gainesville has been researching how the human voice changes in major ways under stress. While we may all suspect this or know this, the research is reported as a major break through, as one day it could be used to detect deception.

One surprise though in the research was that men and women respond differently to the same stressors. Originally, they were not going to test for differences between men and women, but decided to analyze the results separately. The expectation of the researchers before the study was that the results would be about the same between men and women.

The study used people from the community or local religious groups who were strongly associated with a group identity. Statements that were deceptive and truth based were recorded and used along with a threat that the results would be shown to fellow participants for judgement. Electric shock was also used to increase the stress load.

The stress responses were measured by pulse rate, skin conductance and self reports by the participants of discomfort that they perceived.

While I'm sure that this study is legitimate and well intentioned, I really have strong reservations about using people in the community or religious groups that are head strong and overly opinionated. Maybe I am paraphrasing too much about this study, but while these people do make up society, I'm not sure it really proves much.

In addition, the threat of judgement or electric shock to induce stress raises my stress level! When you push stress to these limits, you are bringing about an interaction of mind body connections that could be going back to some sort of trauma or past memory. When you combine this with the people they were using as subjects, that is almost a certainty in my mind. I would love to see a research study on this topic that was done in a more normal manner, rather than biased through the methods of this study.

Furthermore for me, it is not hard to determine through the voice, words, facial expression and body language that someone is telling the truth or being deceptive. I have watched Judge Judy on TV do this and I also do it. It isn't that hard for me to tell someone is lying. So, I'm not sure that someone studying stress levels or deception in a human voice is really giving us information that we don't already know. Of course, some might not be aware of it or conscious enough to see it, but that does not mean we can not already detect it.

I can only hope that further research will be done to corroborate a study such as this. In the future, I hope that a different group of test subjects will be used that will give more credibility to the results. One thing I have learned in life is that just because there is a study, it does not mean that it is a valid study. I'm sure the researchers would argue vehemently in this regards, but this is my opinion based upon my experience.

Related Blog Posts:
1)  Body Language (Oct  7, 2011)
2)  The Right Words, The Right Time (Jul 27, 2009)

1) Study Shows Human Voice Level Conveys Stress Level

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