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Tone of voice predicts divorce

The tone of voice used when talking to your spouse is a more accurate predictor of the success of your marriage than therapy, researchers have claimed.

A team from the Universities of Southern California and Utah analysed conversations between more than 100 couples undergoing marriage guidance counselling, then tracked their marital histories for the subsequent five years.

In a paper entitled Still Together?: The Role of Acoustic Features in Predicting Marital Outcome, the researchers claim that a specially developed algorithm used to analyse the voices of each couple could predict the later course of the marriage with 79 per cent accuracy, higher than the reports prepared by the marriage guidance counsellors present during each conversation.

The algorithm analyses a number of acoustic features, including intensity, pitch and changes in tone which can indicate emotion in the speaker. The researchers tracked the way in which one spouse’s speech patterns affected and were reflected in the other over the course of the conversations.

Researcher Brian Baucom of the University of Utah explained:

“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.”

The study was published by the international conference Interspeech 2015.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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