Most of us are already leaning to one presidential candidate or another, but the real question is which candidate — Barack Obama or Mitt Romney — is the most capable? Could it possibly come down to who has the deepest voice or which one is best coached on what is appropriate to say to a particular audience? One could easily parrot the words “who cares?” while missing an extremely valuable point in understanding how we humans process information. We may also be missing the point on how our emotions can override our rational brains and come to a conclusion that one could only label as being shallow.
I am personally glad to see this year’s presidential battle finally coming to an end. This simple fact is due to the decision that I made months ago about which man will get my vote — a decision from which I have no intention of being swayed. Once this election is over, the number of emails that I receive from some of my overzealous friends who want to change my mind about who to vote for will stop. These friends and acquaintances seem to think that they, and they alone, possess the wisdom to decide for everyone they know who should and who shouldn’t be elected.
One thing I realize after six plus decades on this planet is that, while many of us would like to believe that we elect our officials solely on their policies, there is an alternative theory that I believe makes more sense. That theory is that most of our elected officials are chosen for their appearance and the sound of their voice. To test this theory in your own mind, consider some of our previous political figures. Did you vote for John Edwards? How about Jimmy Carter? In your opinion, how did they live up to your expectations?
A real-life example of this type of decision can be seen in Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. This man has proven himself and I was fortunate enough to attend a concert at Missouri State University in August, where Governor Nixon and his wife were guests of honor. In fact, this event was of such note as to include John Goodman, a Missouri State alumnus, in the audience.
The event honored the 50th anniversary of the Tent Theater, a performing arts division of Missouri State University. I know that, while sitting in the audience while Governor Nixon made a brief speech about the celebration, I couldn’t help but be struck by his overall stature and the way that he presented himself. To me it was amazing how he was able to grab the audience’s attention and how easy it was to see the respect he commanded. The man is tall — over 6 feet — he was well-groomed, well-dressed, and had a low, resonant voice. For me, this was the first time I had seen the Governor in such a close forum; after having done so, it is no surprise to me that, though Missouri is a predominantly Republican state, this Democrat most likely will be re-elected as governor for a second term.
With this as a frame of reference, I was interested in an article that I read at Scientific American concerning how our brains process certain information regarding people. Some of the information was not surprising, such as the assumption that humans are influenced by another person’s tone of voice. It seems that those who speak in a higher-pitched voice are judged as being nervous and less truthful than those with lower-pitched voices. However, a person with a lower pitched voice who speaks slightly faster and slightly louder, with fewer pauses, will leave the audience feeling the person is more energetic, intelligent, and more knowledgeable.
In the article, the author referenced the first broadcast presidential race that was viewed on live television on September 26, 1960. The debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was not presented in Technicolor, but in black and white. Upon reading the article, I recalled watching this debate with family members and, even at 12 years old, I immediately took to John F. Kennedy. To me it seemed that Kennedy came across as more energetic, thoughtful, and likeable, whereas Nixon appeared anemic — almost sickly — speaking in a quivering, high-pitched tone that made him appear unsure of himself.
I also know that my wife believes that a person’s eyes are a mirror to their soul. This can be a little nerve-racking since, if a person has gentle and kind-looking eyes, she is prone to trust them, whereas if their eyes are hard to read, she automatically distances herself from them.
So, I don’t know about what triggers your reactions; I can only hope that you are one of the people who can logically concentrate on a candidate’s policies, abilities, previous missteps, and the like. I also hope that you can look at the entire picture of what is happening at the time, who the person really is, and what they can do to better our country. I believe that the personality of the candidates may have an underlying effect, therefore, our decision on who we vote for may be determined by an emotional, rather than a political reason.
Source: Scientific American
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Cain and Todd Benson