The charisma of the leader is conveyed through multiple aspects: his ideas and vision and his perceivable verbal and non verbal behaviors. Among these perceivable behaviors there are the acoustic characteristics of speech. We present here a study on the perception of charisma in political speech. We collected speech statements with different illocutionary value taken from two speeches given by Umberto Bossi, the leader of an Italian party, before and after a stroke which caused him a voice disorder. Stimuli from the two condition differed significantly in the acoustic-prosodic features. In the first part of the study 40 French listeners rated normal speech stimuli (20 pre- and 20 post-stroke) and in the second part 22 French (11 pre- and 11 post-stroke) and 31 Italians (15 pre- and 16 post-stroke) rated the de-lexicalized version of the same stimuli. Results for the first part of the study show that pitch contour in Bossi’s pre-stroke speech positively influence the perception of his speech as charismatic, as opposed to those some years after the stroke. Results for the de-lexicalized speech confirm for French listeners our hypothesis of the influence of the pitch contour in Bossi’s charisma perception but they are controversial for Italian participants that seem to perceive Bossi as more charismatic in the post-stroke condition.
Signorello, R., D’Errico, F., Poggi, I., Demolin, D., Mairano, P. (2013). Charisma perception in political speech: a case study. , pages 343–348. Firenze University Press.. In Proceedings of the VIIth GSCP International Conference : Speech and Corpora (pp.343-348). FIRENZE : Firenze University Press.