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Listen to Your Mother: Motivating Tones of Voice Predict Adolescents’ Reactions to Mothers

Weinstein, Netta and Vansteenkiste, Maarten and Paulmann, Silke (2019) 'Listen to Your Mother: Motivating Tones of Voice Predict Adolescents’ Reactions to Mothers.' Developmental Psychology, 55 (12). pp. 2534-2546. ISSN 0012-1649

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Virtually nothing is known about the role that tone of voice may play in motivating interactions. Herein, we use an experimental approach to explore for the first time how the same directive instructions (“Do well at the play”) have different effects on adolescents depending on the motivational tone of voice used to convey these instructions. A sample of 1,000 adolescents aged 14–15 years was randomly assigned to hearing semantically identical messages that were expressed by mothers of adolescents with controlling, autonomy-supportive, or neutral tones of voice. Results suggest that the way speakers modulated their voice when intoning the same verbal messages affected adolescents’ emotional, relational, and behavioral intention responses. Listening to mothers making motivating statements in an autonomy-supportive, relative to a neutral, tone of voice elicited more positive and less negative emotions, increased closeness, and intentional behavioral engagement among adolescents, while the opposite set of findings emerged when adolescents listened to mothers making motivational statements in a controlling tone of voice. These findings elucidate how mothers’ spoken communications can impact adolescents, with implications for the quality of parent-child relationships, adolescents’ well-being, and engagement.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: self-determination theory; prosody; autonomy; education; emotions
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 11:29
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 12:19

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