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Can You Measure Charisma?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) - While it is a trait said to make women around the world swoon, a University of Tennessee professor has studied what it actually means to be charismatic.

Professor Kenneth Levine says that although there is no shortage of academic literature on charisma, charismatic communication has never been defined.

"There's this illusion that we know what charismatic communication means, but in the research I reviewed, no one had ever really looked at that," Levine said.

Levine and his study co-authors asked university students to pinpoint behaviors of people with charisma and to define what they consider charisma to be.

"Everyone has a leadership capacity in something," Levine said. "But we found that if you want people to perceive you as charismatic, you need to display attributes such as empathy, good listening skills, eye contact, enthusiasm, self-confidence and skillful speaking."

The results could help social scientists determine which traits can be studied to better understand a person's level and depth of charisma.
Among the most surprising result of his inquiry, said Levine, was the idea that a person could learn to be charismatic. The finding contradicts some beliefs, which say that charisma is a "god-given" gift.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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