By Scott Miller
Clinton Vs. Trump – A Case Study in Persuasion
On election morning, November 8, 2016 my article I had titled “Clinton vs. Trump: A Case Study in Persuasion” was picked up by the leading German newspaper DIE WELT.
Prophetically they choose to change the title to “Trump will win – he has the better voice.”
Trump will win – he has the better voice
By Scott Miller | Published on 08.11.2016
Research shows us vocal variety increases the perception of credibility and charisma to the listener. This is not new news but why does it? This is news.
Melody in a human’s voice conveys point of view. Melody is made up of two elements; pitch variation – tones going high, low and everywhere in between AND Tempo – how long, short, quick or slow a person speaks and varies speed within a phrase. A phrase is an exhaled bunch of words put together in between each inhale to put the next bunch of words together. Watch someone talk you’ll see them inhale say a bunch of words and then inhale again – those words are a phrase.
Donald Trump has more musical variety in his vocal expression. Hillary Clinton has less. More musicality means a greater sense of one’s point of view (i.e. opinion). When I know someone’s point of view, I am much more likely to have one myself. When I do not know someone’s point of view I am much more likely to be suspicious of their intentions; if I am suspicious of one’s intentions I trust them less. When I am released to have a point of view about another’s point of view, I may not agree with them but I am more likely to trust them. If I disagree with someone, inherently, I believe them – after all I must believe them enough to disagree with them. I like trusting others because it helps me know myself, reflect my identity out into the world. I exist since they exist.
Hillary Clinton has little variation in her musicality, at times in her past, substituting volume for musicality. That’s like substituting Aspartame for honey, it feels more effective to the speaker but it doesn’t stick to the bones of the listener. If the speaker has not allowed me to see myself more clearly, by understanding their point of view musically, there is nothing compelling about the experience. If it is not compelling, I am simply left to witness an event instead of experience myself in it. My identity is what is reflected back to me. I see myself clearest when the mirrored reflection is clearest. A common device in torture is isolation. When I am in isolation I lose a sense of myself because there is nothing outside of me to reflect myself off of or back at me. A lack of musicality creates a witnessing experience for the listener, as a witness I end up feeling left out of the main event, I am an outsider. I don’t like feeling like an outsider. Without varied musicality I get ahead of the information, not because I am not interested in it but because the lack of suspense fails to hold the attention of both me the speaker or me the listener.
When I hear a point of view, I am able to relate myself to it – I can either agree or disagree, both move the evolution of the conversation forward. Family members can cultivate the necessary feelings and viewpoints to feud with other family members for generations, in some instances. Points of view have staying power, they create attachment to oneself and to others around. They are the stuff of great plays and myths, the DNA of heroes and villains alike. Neutrality is like a cobweb, flimsy and eerie; we walk gingerly through them, old and dusty, a sign of death – our suspicion at high alert. Which way do I go? Maybe best to stop and turnaround. I am alone.
I have been programmed to hear my leaders sound a certain way. They, like the parent, come on TV and tell me about decisions already made and how I need to act in light of them. I then have clarity to agree or disagree with them. I am not accustomed to hearing my leaders talk about the nuance of policy or the realities of a complex situation. I do not want to hear this from my leaders, it sounds weak and somehow “un-leadery” and definitely non-parental. When I am parented I feel safer and more protected. I feel like death is not around the corner able to snatch me up at any moment. I feel complete, like I can get on with my life. I know I am deluding myself, deep down, that death is everywhere at all times in all things – that death is correct nature, but I don’t like it so I am happy to pretend, with my leader’s assurance, that it is all being handled by the parent. I was abandoned once as a child, I feel redemption when my leader sounds like they’ll stand with me with their committed tones.
The smart side of my brain picks out words for meaning, the sappy side feels and sways with the music – which side controls my gut? There are certain words that have rolled down the hill so far and amassed so many things in their path they can’t any longer resemble the original meaning. I am left simply with the grooves and contours, the flats and sharps of the delivery device. I hear rather than see.