When a person picks up the phone, it’s natural to make a few assumptions about the voice on the other end of the line. And though forming judgments about people based on such scanty information may not be the best idea, researchers are revealing that people’s voices can divulge quite a bit about them. As compiled from Reader’s Digest, spring.org.uk and livescience.com, hers’s a list of indicators that will tell you that it’s not just what you say — it’s what you sound like when you say it.
Almost a 100 years ago when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote that “the human voice is the organ of the soul,” he wasn’t wrong. A Columbia Business School study recorded students reading a passage before being randomly assigned to a high or low-rank status and then heading into a negotiation. Those who were given a higher rank or more power raised the pitch of their voices more, varied how loud their voices were, and became less monotone. Basically, a higher pitch and varying tonality correlates with a higher sense of authority.
Your marriage’s stability
Researchers recorded couples in marriage therapy sessions for two years and then used a computer to analyse voice features like jitter, loudness, and pitch in a study published in Proceedings of Interspeech. Looking at the couples’ marital statuses five years later, researchers found that a computer’s analysis of tone of voice was better at predicting whether the relationship got better or worse than an analysis of the words therapists used to describe the sessions. Turns out, men and women tend to naturally alter their voices when they’re in love and newly married — softer pitch and lower frequency — which tend to continue on if the bond remains strong. Voice shifts can potentially signal infidelity or a growing lack of affection.
Your career success
Studies from Duke University and University of California, San Diego, found that male CEOs with the lowest voices earned an average of $187,000 more and led companies with $440 million more in assets than their higher-voiced counterparts. Another Duke study found that volunteers who voted in a fake election were more likely to vote for political candidates with lower voices, regardless of the nominee’s gender. Bottom line: a lower voice could (wrongly or rightly) signal strength, responsibility and credibility to listeners.
University of Glasgow researchers recorded people reading a passage and played just the word “hello” from those readings to other volunteers, who rated the voices on personality traits like trustworthiness and dominance. While the study couldn’t verify how accurate the ratings were, the researchers found that most people rated the voices similarly. For instance, men who raised their pitches were seen as more trustworthy and reliable, while women whose voices went up at the end of a word were seen as less dependable.
A crucial key to deciphering a person’s height may lie in their pitch, particularly how deep someone’s voice is — even so, other factors may play a role as well. Taller people tend to have deeper pitches. A study presented at the Acoustical Society of North America’s annual conference in 2013 found that listeners could tell which speaker was taller just by hearing their voice. Tall people typically have larger lower airways, including lungs, which gives them a lower voice than shorter people usually have, the researchers say.
You’re more comfy with familiar voices
It’s a fact that familiar voices stand out and keep you at ease! Acquainted voices seem to jump out of the background noise automatically at us. Participants in a recent study listened to their spouse’s voice when it was mixed up with a stranger’s voice. They found it easier to pick out what their spouse was saying compared with the stranger. The punch line is that people also found it much easier to ignore their spouse’s voice when they wanted to. So, familiar voices are easier to hear, and also easier to tune out! Yikes!
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2016.
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