“The voice analysis profile for McCain looks very much like someone who is clinically depressed,” says Pollermann, a psychologist who uses voice analysis software in her work with patients. Previous research on mirror neurons has shown that listening to depressed voices can make others feel depressed themselves, she says…
…Her analysis shows that McCain’s voice changes little in pitch as he speaks, and so conveys very little emotion or impact. Whether he is addressing positive prospects or discussing sad facts, his voice always sounds the same.
Additionally, McCain’s voice and facial movements often do not match up, says Pollermann, and he often smiles in a manner that commonly conveys sarcasm when addressing controversial statements. “That might lead to what I would call a lack of credibility.”
People are unlikely to trust statements made in a flat tone, particularly when they do not match the person’s facial expressions. According to Pollermann’s analysis, it may not make any difference that McCain does not pepper his speeches with spin, if the way he talks does not strike people as believable.
Obama, by comparison, speaks with greater pitch modulation, and his facial expressions correlate very well with what he is saying. His one facial foible may be a tendency to furrow his brow, she says, conveying constant concern. This is similar to the UK prime minister Gordon Brown, whose expressions tend to be limited to sadness, anger and disgust, according to the Vox Institute’s analysis. But Obama’s fluency, high speech rate and good use of pitch make him a dynamic speaker.
So what does all of this actually say about the honesty of politicians? “Our society treats political candidates like used-car salesmen,” Ekman says. “The fact is that the candidates almost certainly believe what they are saying, even if they are giving some facts a much lighter treatment than others. In that way, actually catching someone in a blatant lie is relatively rare.”