Tone of voice is difficult to define clearly or control. It can also be very seriously misunderstood.
Nonetheless an algorithm designed by researchers has succeeded in predicting the outcomes of marital counseling with 79% accuracy, which is better than what human counselors predicted.
The study shows that tone of voice is measurable with decent accuracy and thus is an objective aspect of language to a point. I qualify that statement because tone of voice can also be misunderstood and misunderstandings can become habits and/or become serious hindrances to understanding if they are not properly analyzed.
One of the researchers had this to say of the study:
Psychological practitioners and researchers have long known that the way that partners talk about and discuss problems has important implications for the health of their relationships. However, the lack of efficient and reliable tools for measuring the important elements in those conversations has been a major impediment in their widespread clinical use. These findings represent a major step forward in making objective measurement of behavior practical and feasible for couple therapists. (Source)
Note the line: “…the lack of efficient and reliable tools for measuring the important elements in those conversations has been a major impediment in their widespread clinical use…”
This is good news for clinics, but what do you do at home years before you need to seek counseling for a rocky marriage?
What you can do is analyze at home using FIML techniques or something similar.
When FIML partners focus on analyzing tone of voice long before they are experiencing problems in their relationship, I am confident most of them will not develop problems, and surely most will never develop problems related to tone of voice.
Tone of voice is accessible to rational analysis and understanding if partners make FIML-type agreements to do so. Besides avoiding marital discord, FIML analyses provide many other other kinds of insights into the idiosyncratic specifics of partners’ unique relationships and circumstances.
The study can be found here: Still Together?: The Role of Acoustic Features in Predicting Marital Outcome.
An article about the study can be found here: Words can deceive, but tone of voice cannot.