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ERP correlates of motivating voices: quality of motivation and time-course matters

Zougkou, Konstantina and Weinstein, Netta and Paulmann, Silke (2017) 'ERP correlates of motivating voices: quality of motivation and time-course matters.' Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12 (10). 1687 - 1700. ISSN 1749-5016

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Here, we conducted the first study to explore how motivations expressed through speech are processed in real-time. Participants listened to sentences spoken in two types of well-studied motivational tones (autonomy-supportive and controlling), or a neutral tone of voice. To examine this, listeners were presented with sentences that either signaled motivations through prosody (tone of voice) and words simultaneously (e.g. ‘You absolutely have to do it my way’ spoken in a controlling tone of voice), or lacked motivationally biasing words (e.g. ‘Why don’t we meet again tomorrow’ spoken in a motivational tone of voice). Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in response to motivations conveyed through words and prosody showed that listeners rapidly distinguished between motivations and neutral forms of communication as shown in enhanced P2 amplitudes in response to motivational when compared with neutral speech. This early detection mechanism is argued to help determine the importance of incoming information. Once assessed, motivational language is continuously monitored and thoroughly evaluated. When compared with neutral speech, listening to controlling (but not autonomy-supportive) speech led to enhanced late potential ERP mean amplitudes, suggesting that listeners are particularly attuned to controlling messages. The importance of controlling motivation for listeners is mirrored in effects observed for motivations expressed through prosody only. Here, an early rapid appraisal, as reflected in enhanced P2 amplitudes, is only found for sentences spoken in controlling (but not autonomy-supportive) prosody. Once identified as sounding pressuring, the message seems to be preferentially processed, as shown by enhanced late potential amplitudes in response to controlling prosody. Taken together, results suggest that motivational and neutral language are differentially processed; further, the data suggest that listening to cues signaling pressure and control cannot be ignored and lead to preferential, and more in-depth processing mechanisms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: attitudes, prosody, tone of voice, language, motivation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 09:55
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2019 16:15

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