Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 99-105

First online:

Vocal signs of confidence

  • Charles E. KimbleAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Dayton
  • , Steven D. SeidelAffiliated withMiami University

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This study examined whether two paralinguistic variables, vocal loudness and response latency, were associated with confidence in answers to trivia questions. Audience presence and size were manipulated and subjects' assertiveness was measured. Subjects verbally responded to trivia questions by indicating their choice and how confident they were in each answer. Tapes of these responses were later analyzed for latency of response and loudness of speech. As expected, the more confident individuals were in their answers, the faster and louder they responded. Assertive subjects spoke louder. The presence of an audience had no effects on vocal responding. Apparently, the confidence of a speaker can be inferred from the speed and loudness of the speaker's responses.