Researchers at Kent State University analyzed 25 taped "Larry King Live" interviews and found that the host's level of deference to his guests - and vice versa - is demonstrated by tone of voice.
The dominant person in the conversation sets its tone by establishing "a frequency," the pitch generated by the speaker's vocal cords; the person deferring alters his or her tone to match that.The frequency "gives an indication of status," sociologist Stanford Gregory of Kent State told Self magazine. "It has nothing to do with what's said. . . . Throughout the animal world, there's always a pecking order - and this signal is a way of producing an order."
The researchers found King deferring to: George Bush, Elizabeth Taylor, Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, Barbra Streisand, Sean Connery and Mario Cuomo. Among the guests who treated King as king: Henry Kissinger, Lee Iacocca, Spike Lee, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Garrison Keillor and George Mitchell.
- Leah Garchik