Hormones have a large impact on the body. In women, hormones during fertile times can increase the pitch of her voice. Similarly, testosterone has an effect on a man’s voice by making it deeper. But a new study takes it one step further showing that an individual’s strength and the tough sound of their voice are in fact linked.
The Telegraph reported:
Researchers have found that people can determine with uncanny accuracy the physical strength of a man by listening to a short clip of their voice.
They believe the ability is a hangover from a time when it was a matter of life and death to make a quick assessment of someone’s physical prowess.
It is much more complex skill than just how deep or loud the voice is and the way tough men talk varies considerably from individual to individual, the research showed.
Those in the study were able to accurately assess strength from voices all over the world, including Romanian college students, Tsimane hunter-horticulturalists from Bolivia, and Andean pastoralists in Argentina.
Dr Aaron Sell, of the University of California who led the research, said that ability only seemed to apply to the voices of men.
“The hypothesis is that ancestrally a man’s fighting ability would have been more important to assess than a woman’s because men were much more likely to use physical aggression, and the best fighters in a group would have almost certainly have been men,” he said.
The study involved recording short brief, non-aggressive, statements from men of all walks of life from all corners of the world.
Their strength and aggressiveness was then assessed using hand grip tests and psychological questionnaires.
These clips were then played to a group of male and female students who had to rate the strength of the man talking on a scale of one to seven.
Remarkably, they guessed right almost half the time, which is a far higher accuracy than just chance or randomness.
What is more they were almost as accurate as physically seeing the individuals face and body – and could predict aggressive traits that even the eyes could not.
“Looking at a man’s body gives you a good idea of how strong he is,” said Dr Sell. “Listening to his voice isn’t that much worse.”
The report added: “These results demonstrate that there are cues in the voice which predict strength that are not available during visual inspections of static photographs and suggest that the system evolved to take advantage of this additional information.”
Dr Sell said it was a mystery as to what in a man’s voice pointed to them being strong and aggressive.
“We do not know what the acoustic cue is that raters are picking up on that indicates strength,” he said.
“This isn’t from lack of trying. We tested all of the following and they did not track physical strength; pitch, rate of speech, volume, change in pitch, change in volume, and minimum pitch. None of those were reliably predictive of strength.”
The researchers, who published heir findings in the Proceedings of Royal Society B journal, said that males and females were equally accurate at rating voices.
“This replicates previous research of ours that shows males and females are equally accurate at rating strength from the body and face,” said Dr Sell.