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What Your Voice Says About You
(and How Your Voice Impacts Others)

When it comes to speaking, it's not only your words that have an impact. Your voice -- whether it's booming, raspy, petite or demure -- also speaks volumes about your personality, physical health, even your sexual activity.

voice personality

People were able to detect the "personality" of computer-generated voices based on their pace and pitch.

"When the phone rings, even though you may not know the person at the other end of the line, as soon as they speak you usually know whether you are talking to a male or female, and a child or adult. In other words, the sound of a person's voice conveys information about the biological status of the speaker," said Gordon Gallup, from the University of Albany's department of psychology.

Aside from obvious factors like gender and age, your voice can also convey your true emotions, even when you'd rather it not (such as a subtle wavering when you intend to sound strong, or a slight increase in pitch at the end of a sentence, letting on you're not certain). Delving even deeper, your voice impacts how others perceive you, perhaps more so even than physical appearance.

Are You an Extrovert or an Introvert? Your Voice Says it All

A study by researchers at Stanford University, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that people "hear" personality in voices -- even those they know are computer-generated.

What's more, the 72 study participants were able to accurately judge personality based solely on voice. They heard voices that were either "extroverted" (louder and faster) or "introverted" (softer and slower), and the participants were able to accurately gauge the voices' personalities.

We Like Voices That Sound Like Our Own

In the same study, it was also found that people preferred voices that were more like their own; those who described themselves as introverts were more attracted to the introvert voice, and vice versa for the extroverts.

Also, when the voice personality (which read book reviews from a phony Internet book store) matched the listener's, the listener was more attracted not only to the voice, but also to the book reviews -- and was more likely to say they'd buy the book being reviewed.

The findings show the significance that voice, including computer-synthesized speech, can have in a sales environment.

"To maximize liking and trust, designers should set parameters [for computer-synthesized speech], for example, words per minute or frequency range, that create a personality that is consistent with the user and the content being presented."

What Your Voice Reveals About Your Sex Life

A study by Gallup, of the University of Albany, and colleagues found that people with attractive voices also tend to be more sexually adventurous. Those whose voices rated at the top:

"In short, ratings of voice attractiveness are correlated with promiscuity in both men and women," Gallup said.

voice sexuality

People whose voices were rated most attractive were also more likely to have had more sexual partners and an increased tendency to be unfaithful.

Further, voice attractiveness also indicated clues about the person's body. In men, those with attractive voices were more likely to also have broad shoulders and narrow hips, both characteristics that are linked to testosterone and growth.

Women with attractive voices were also more likely to have a desirable body -- one with a narrow waist and broad hips.

Past research has also indicated a link between voice and favorability, both of personality and physical characteristics. The link is known as the "vocal attractiveness stereotype:"

  • Those with attractive voices are usually perceived as having more desirable personality characteristics.

  • The higher the rating of voice attractiveness, the more likely the rater is to think the person behind the voice is similar to himself -- and the more likely the rater is to want to affiliate with the speaker.

  • A correlation has been found between voice attractiveness and facial attractiveness in women.

Other Interesting Vocal Facts

A voice is a mysterious thing, and even you may not know what your voice is saying about you:

Recommended Reading

How Singing Improves Your Health (Even if Other People Shouldn't Hear You Singing)

How Your Body Language Conveys Confidence, Intelligence and Trust ... or a Lack There of


Evolution and Human Behavior 25 (2004) 295-3

Science Daily

BBC News

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