Conversational Human Voice

Researchers Tom Kelleher and Barbara Miller have created an 11-item measure of the conversational human voice (yes, the Cluetrain Manifesto one). So, if you’d like to measure the conversational human voice of your blog, website, or automated telephone prompters (OK, maybe not this last one), plug the following items in a survey and ask your public to respond:

  1. Invites people to conversation.
  2. Is open to dialogue.
  3. Uses conversation-style communication.
  4. Tries to communicate in a human voice.
  5. Tries to be interesting in communication.
  6. Uses a sense of humor in communication.
  7. Provides links to competitors.
  8. Attempts to make communication enjoyable.
  9. Would admit a mistake.
  10. Provides prompt feedback addressing criticism with a direct but uncritical
    manner.
  11. Treats me and others as human.

The items are published on p. 413 of the article (see full citation & link below). For those who wish to get technical, the authors reported an alpha reliability coefficient of .87 for this scale. Which means that the scale has pretty high internal consistency – or that people who rank high on one item in the scale tend to rank high on the other ones, too. If they didn’t, you’d wonder if the items are measuring different things. OK, enough about that.

But why would I want to measure human voice?

I don’t know, why would you? You tell me in the comments. If you’re trying to fake the human voice and want to use this measure to see if you succeed, well… well, you have bigger problems then. But you might want to perform an experiment to assess the different impacts of different levels of conversational human voice. That’s what the authors tried to do in phase II of their study, but the validity gods weren’t merciful with that part and for that reason I’d rather not write about it. I’ll stick with the good part.

I find it very useful to have a validated scale for measuring human voice, but then, my world here in the ivory tower is a weird, weird one (you might say). What does the real world think? Would you use this scale? When? Why? How?

Article citation:

Kelleher, T., & Miller, B. M. (2006). Organizational blogs and the human voice: Relational Strategies and Relational Outcomes. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), 395-414.

(it’s one of those few academic journals available for free online)