Tone Of Voice Can Predict Relationship Success With 79% Accuracy


A new computer algorithm is able to predict whether a couple will have an improved relationship, or if it will get worse, by analysing the tone of voice used in a conversation.

According to research led by Shrikanth Narayanan and Panayiotis Georgiou of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the algorithm can predict the marital success of couples with nearly 79% accuracy.

Published on 6th September in Proceedings of Interspeech, the algorithm’s results proved more accurate than descriptions of therapy sessions given by relationship experts.

The research consisted of recording hundreds of conversations from over 100 couples during marriage therapy sessions, and tracking their marital status.

These sessions were recorded over a period of two years, with their martial status then tracked for five years.

The team then used speech-processing techniques to develop an algorithm that broke the recordings into acoustic features.

These features included pitch, intensity, “jitter” and “shimmer”.

Member of the research team, Md Nasir said: “What you say is not the only thing that matters, it’s very important how you say it. Our study confirms that it holds for a couple’s relationship as well.

“Taken together, the vocal acoustic features offered the team’s program a proxy for the subject’s communicative state, and the changes to that state over the course of a single therapy and across therapy sessions.”

The program was then tested against behavioural analyses made by human experts, which had been coded to show positive emotions such as “acceptance”, and negative qualities like “blame.”

The team found that studying voice directly gave a more accurate portrayal of the future success of a couple.

Reflecting on the results, collaborator Brian Baucom said: “Psychological practitioners and researchers have long known that the way that partners talk about and discuss problems has important implications for the health of their relationships.

“However, the lack of efficient and reliable tools for measuring the important elements in those conversations has been a major impediment in their widespread clinical use.

“These findings represent a major step forward in making objective measurement of behaviour practical and feasible for couple therapists.”

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, who recently gave Wayne State University a sum of $851,462 to explore how the rise in online dating is affecting the relational landscape across the United States.

Find out more here.

Danielle White

Danielle is a Junior Reporter at Global Dating Insights. Originally from Reading, she has studied Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University and has a passion for writing and reporting. She enjoys travelling and likes to spend her free time socialising with friends and attending music events.

Global Dating Insights is part of the Industry Insights Group. Registered in the UK. Company No: 14395769