Voice analytics: A new tool for voters?

I’m standing in the election booth, ready to select America’s next President.  It’s Tuesday, November 8, 2016.  I’ve been barraged by polling and am sick and tired of it.  I’ve always felt that polls are used when they serve candidate’s interests or help boost broadcast ratings.

As I deliberate, I realize that voters have a better toolkit than ever before, with voice analytics giving a deeper understanding of a candidate’s character and personality, using neuropsychology research.  Using this tool, you can match vocal tones, pace and intensity to emotion.  Like all new technologies, it’s not perfect, constantly evolving, and can be applied in ways that the developers never imagined.  Imagine how surprised they were to discover that millions of voters started using their app!  Advertisers have been using it for a while now, along with those personalized ads that dog you everywhere you go.

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Everyone knows that how you say something can be more important than what you say, and politicians have mastered the art of persuasion in their speeches and glad-handing.  Understanding that “how” has become a science, and as a savvy voter, I’ve been using voice analytics to help make better informed decisions.

Advertisers jumped on this right away in 2014 when it was introduced, but politicians haven’t yet fully taken advantage of it.  Slow to change, many still cling to old school polling.  Some of their interns are trying to get them on board.  Some succeeded, most failed.  So this moment, in 2016, could be a rare opportunity.  Maybe voters can be one step ahead.  After all, if McDonald’s or Burger King can use it to induce cravings, why can’t voters use it to help decode a candidate’s temper and disposition?

Fine.  You don’t buy into it?  I’m detecting a skeptical tone in your voice.  You think polls are more reliable, or do you vote with your gut, ignoring those never ending ups and downs?  Maybe something’s affecting your gut.  I’d like to understand their influence better.  I’m pretty good at knowing when someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes, but since I’ve used this new tool, I think I’ve gotten better. 

The first time I used it to see what could be masked within my own voice, I was depressed for days, since it told me things I didn’t want to hear that I knew deep down were true.  It only takes a few seconds to record a candidate’s voice on your phone and pull up the results, about the same time it takes to find the latest polls.  And you can bet that by 2020, candidates will have mastered the art of masking their masks, making voice analytics much less useful. 

But for now, I’ve listened to, read about, watched and analyzed these Presidential candidates pretty carefully, and I’ve got a good feeling in my gut to punch the button right next to her name, the next President of the United States.

Toney, Ph.D., is provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Kean University, N.J.