July 25, 2013
Speaker’s Power To Act On Words Influences Listeners’ Brain Response
Listeners' neural response influenced by speaker's potency to act on words
A speaker's power to act on his words influences how a listener perceives the meaning of their message, according to research published July 24 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky from the University of Marburg, Germany, and colleagues from other institutions.
The effects occur rapidly, within 150-450 milliseconds of hearing a statement, and demonstrate that a listener's response to a message is immediately influenced by the social status of the speaker, and whether he or she has the power to bring about the state of affairs described by their words. Bornkessel-Schlesewsky explains, "Every day, we hear statements that surprise us because they do not correspond to what we (think we) know about the world. Our study demonstrates that, in understanding such utterances, our brain rapidly takes into account who said them (e.g. a politician versus our neighbor) and whether he or she in fact has the power to act upon what was said."
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