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Audio Mining: The Role of Vocal Tone in Persuasion

Xin (Shane) Wang, Shijie Lu, X I Li, Mansur Khamitov, Neil Bendle, J. Jeffrey Inman and Andrew T Stephen

Journal of Consumer Research, 2021, vol. 48, issue 2, 189-211

Abstract: Persuasion success is often related to hard-to-measure characteristics, such as the way the persuader speaks. To examine how vocal tones impact persuasion in an online appeal, this research measures persuaders’ vocal tones in Kickstarter video pitches using novel audio mining technology. Connecting vocal tone dimensions with real-world funding outcomes offers insight into the impact of vocal tones on receivers’ actions. The core hypothesis of this paper is that a successful persuasion attempt is associated with vocal tones denoting (1) focus, (2) low stress, and (3) stable emotions. These three vocal tone dimensions—which are in line with the stereotype content model—matter because they allow receivers to make inferences about a persuader’s competence. The hypotheses are tested with a large-scale empirical study using Kickstarter data, which is then replicated in a different category. In addition, two controlled experiments provide evidence that perceptions of competence mediate the impact of the three vocal tones on persuasion attempt success. The results identify key indicators of persuasion attempt success and suggest a greater role for audio mining in academic consumer research.

Keywords: audio mining; machine learning; voice analytics; entrepreneurial pitches; persuasion; crowdfunding; artificial intelligence (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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