Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Field Methods 30:4 (2018), pp 312-328

DOI: 10.1177/1525822X18784500


Copyright © 2018 Nuttirudee Charoenruk and Kristen Olson

Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


As an aural mode, an interviewer’s voice is an important part of telephone surveys. A speaker’s voice can convey information about his or her trustworthiness and confidence, among other attributes. Consequently, respondents may perceive attributes of interviewers from their voices. We evaluated how five perceived attributes of interviewers (expertise, confidence, reliability, trustworthiness, and easiness to understand) are associated with interviewer voice characteristics (pitch, intonation, speech rate, and disfluencies) and whether this varies by types of question and interviewer characteristics. Overall, listeners perceived interviewers’ attributes from their voices. Interviewers with higher pitched voices, moderate intonation, a faster pace, and fewer disfluencies were rated more positively, but these ratings differed somewhat for socially undesirable and complex questions. Reading questions at the recommended speech rate of two words per second leads to negative perceptions of interviewers.

Includes supplemental material.