Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The one subtle part of speech that helps predict whether your relationship will last

ThinkstockPhotos-478420957.jpg

When it comes to relationships, it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes all the difference.

At least that’s what a new study from the University of Southern California suggests.

Researchers used a computer algorithm program to analyse the tone of speech couples used to determine whether they would stay together in the long run and found it is incredibly revealing.

A team led by Shrikanth Narayanan and Panayiotis Georgiou from the university's School of Engineering used the new algorithm they developed to record hundreds of conversations between over 100 couples during their marriage therapy sessions over the course of two years.

They then followed each relationship for a following five years.

And by assessing the tone of voice used in the therapy sessions – such as pitch, intensity and ‘jitters' that track aspects of emotion in the voice – the algorithm was able to predict if the relationship between spouses would improve or deteriorate across the period.

It was accurate 79% of the time.

In fact, it was more accurate at predicting the outcome of the marriage than experienced relationship experts, who analysed behavioural aspects of the relationship such as blame and acceptance. 

Couple therapy

"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," Nasir says, in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of Interspeech

"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 behavior practical and feasible for couple therapists."

So forget actions speak louder than words, it’s the tone and emotion of our speech we’ll be tuning into the next time we’re caught in a relationship rut. 

Related

hero.jpg

Couples together for over 50 years share their secrets

Couple on bed.jpg

The one surprising factor that's key to a better sex life

when-harry-met-sally-ftr.jpg

The one key element of long-lasting love that all happy couples share

Untitled-1.jpg

Five words and phrases that trigger conflict in a relationship

SATC hero.JPG

The one free thing that’s proven to fight and prevent depression

ellie-and-carl.jpg

Quick and simple tricks to resolve arguments in relationships

couples1.PNG

Couples reveal how many people they've slept with in awkward video

Screen-Shot-2015-06-18-at-13.37.24.png

The biggest turn-offs when seeking a new partner

ThinkstockPhotos-514755607.jpg

The common trait all happy couples share

Comments

More

BMA votes to make abortion legal in England and Wales

It is still an offence punishable by life in prison

by Amy Swales
28 Jun 2017

36 fashionable Irish baby names taking the world by storm

These melodic baby names all hail from the emerald isle…

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Jun 2017

Rosé ice cream is the summer treat we all deserve

The latest food fad combines two of our favourite things

by Elle Griffiths
28 Jun 2017

Power plant makes girls compete for internships in bikini competition

We can't even.

by Sarah Biddlecombe
28 Jun 2017

Original and imaginative: the perks of people who like being alone

Those who are unafraid of being single have 'greater self-esteem in relationships'

by Anna Brech
28 Jun 2017

The Department of Education reveals how much less it pays women

And teachers have responded

by Sarah Biddlecombe
28 Jun 2017

Lauren Graham is so ready for the Gilmore Girls Christmas film

The actor is game for playing Lorelai in another installment

by Elle Griffiths
28 Jun 2017

High-street chemist finally slashes price of morning-after pill

The chain has been hailed as “trailblazing” for its attitude to sexual health

by Amy Swales
28 Jun 2017

USA Gymnastics apologises in wake of sexual abuse scandal

The governing body failed to act when coaches were suspected of abusing underage athletes

by Anna Brech
28 Jun 2017

New law cracks down on domestic violence by UK citizens overseas

Legislation will show perpetrators "there is nowhere to hide"

by Anna Brech
28 Jun 2017