Why we love those who sound like us
A team of researchers has found that we prefer voices that are similar to our own because they convey a soothing sense of community and social belongingness.
"The voice is an amazingly flexible tool that we use to construct our identity," lead author Molly Babel, a professor in the Department of Linguistics at University of British Columbia, said. "Very few things in our voices are immutable, so we felt that our preferences had to be about more than a person's shape and size."
Aside from identifying the overwhelming allure of one's own regional dialects, the study found key gender differences. It showed a preference for men who spoke with a shorter average word length, and for "larger" sounding male voices.
For females, there was also a strong preference for breathier voices - a la Marilyn Monroe - as opposed to the creakier voices of the Kardashians or Ellen Page.
The allure of breathiness - which typically results from younger and thinner vocal cords - relates to our cultural obsession with youthfulness and health, the researchers said. A creaky voice might suggest a person has a cold, is tired or smokes regularly.
Babel said the findings indicate that our preference for voices aren't all about body size and finding a mate, it is also about fitting in to our social groups.
The researchers found that participants preferred different acoustic signals for males and females - and the strongest predictors of voice preference are specific to the community that you're a part of.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
(Posted on 20-02-2014)