This study explored the relation between empathy and phonetic convergence. The working hypothesis was that empathy among two individuals translates into a synchronic process impacting on pitch values. This was studied by recording 27 dyadic interactions assigned to one of two experimental conditions (labeled as Empathic and Non-Empathic). The evolution of pitch in time was observed in some of the questions used to guide the conversations. In each conversation pitch was analyzed for both participants to determine whether phonetic convergence occurred or not. Descriptive and inferential analyses were implemented, the results being consistent with the manipulation devised to distinguish each experimental condition. The final data support the existence of a relation between some phonetic features of speech and dispositional dimensions that although typically overlooked by classical models of cognition are largely present in everyday interactions. Also data support the idea of a stronger empathy effect on mixed-gender dyads than on same-gender dyads.
- Conversational interaction
- Phonetic convergence