Ph.D. in Linguistics and Ph.D. in Psychology

2010-2014

Title: La Voix Charismatique Aspects Psychologiques et Caractéristiques Acoustiques (in French)
University of Grenoble, GIPSA-Lab, and Roma Tre University, Education Department
Supervisors: Prof. Didier Demolin and Prof. Isabella Poggi
Keywords:
charisma, political speech, voice quality, political leadership, cross-culture
Abstract:
This dissertation analyzes the charismatic voice in the context of political leadership. It is shown that the speaker-leader uses his/her voice based on two functions. The primary function is biological and consists of manipulating changes in fundamental frequency in order to be recognized as the leader of the group. The secondary function is learned and dependent upon the language spoken and the culture that one belongs to, and consists of changing voice quality in order to convey different traits and types of charisma. These functions are employed in order to persuade an audience and achieve certain goals.
The phenomenon of charisma is first addressed through social-cognitive theory that distinguishes charisma of the mind (the leader’s thought, actions, and vision expressed through written and spoken language) from charisma of the body (all non-verbal behaviors used for expressing one’s message, affects, and emotions. Certain adjectives were established through empirical research to describe positive and negative traits in French, Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese speech. The tool MASCharP (Multi-dimensional Adjective-based Scale of Charisma Perception) was then developed in order to evaluate the charismatic traits of an individual’s perceptible behavior.
The study then establishes an acoustic and perceptual description of the charismatic voice. Speech range profiles are created for French, Italian, and Brazilian male leaders in order to represent the leaders’ vocal extension in different communication contexts (formal vs. informal). The voice profiles demonstrate how the leaders adopt a particular vocal strategy related to the communication context as well as the leaders’ persuasive strategy. These results show cross-language and cross-cultural similarities in leaders’ vocal behavior. The following experimental phase demonstrates the influence of voice quality on the perception of different types and attributes of charismatic leadership.
The speaker-leader uses his vocal production to be recognized as the leader of a group. This is true for all formal communication contexts wherein the leader must express his leadership and has a persuasive goal to achieve. If he wants to submit group members and hopes to appear as a dominant or threatening leader, the leader uses a low fundamental frequency associated with phonatory types such as creaky voice. If he wants to be perceived as a sincere, calm, and reassuring, he uses a higher fundamental frequency associated with his modal voice, avoiding phonatory types such as harsh voice. This is the primary function of the charismatic voice.
Lastly, this study shows that, in political discourse, the traits of a charismatic leader are filtered by the language and cultural context of the interaction. The secondary function of the charismatic voice is therefore addressed: the use of one’s voice for conveying different types of charisma, as characterized by varying attributes, is filtered through the language and culture that favor certain charismatic vocal behaviors which serve as prototypes that correspond to the audience’s inherent expectations.
For more information, see the Publications page. Download an electronic copy of my dissertation.

Master 2 (equiv. MA – 2 years) in Computational Linguistics

2008-2010

Stendhal University, Grenoble (France). College of Linguistics, Department of Informatics and Pedagogy
My final dissertation was on human intercultural communicative behaviors in face-to-face interaction, with a special emphasis on audio-visual micro-events of backchanneling.
Final GPA of “Très bien” (17/20)
For more information, see the Publications page. Please contact me to receive an electronic copy of this manuscript.

Laurea Triennale (equiv. Bachelor’s degree – 3 years) in Modern Languages for the Web

2003-2007

University of Palermo (Italy). College of Letters and Philosophy
My final dissertation was on collaborative learning theories and computer-supported collaborative learning with Wiki pages. I developed a Wiki website called Wiki-Learning for collaborative on-line learning under the tutelage of Dr. Vito Evola
Final GPA of 107/110
Please contact me to receive an electronic copy of this manuscript.