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

Zougkou, Konstantina, Weinstein, Netta ORCID: and Paulmann, Silke 2017. ERP correlates of motivating voices: quality of motivation and time-course matters. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 12 (10) , pp. 1687-1700. 10.1093/scan/nsx064

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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
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1749-5016
Funders: Leverhulme Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 July 2017
Date of Acceptance: 23 April 2017
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 20:25

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