Practice Pointer #4: Strong Body, Strong Voice

Compare "I'll be back", with "Nu-cu-lar." In this example, each man's voice reaveals his physical strength.

For men, your voice can be just as important as your appearance.  Your voice can reveal just how strong and tough you really are.  It is not what you say, but how you say it.

It turns out that people can accurately predict the physical strength and fighting ability of men just by listening to their voice, according to a new study published in The Proceedings of Royal Society.

The study used voice samples, which were taken from speakers across different populations and language groups.  The speakers repeated random phrases in their native languages such as “When it rains the ranches get flooded, and the people gather the maize and light fires.”  The researchers also assessed the strength of the speakers using different tests.  (This study would have been much cooler if the researchers had the speakers just duke it out.  But so be it.)

The researchers then played the voice samples to participants in the study to evaluate the upper body strength of the speakers.  The raters accurately assessed physical strength just from the voices regardless of the language spoken.

The results confirm that both men and women can accurately assess men’s physical strength just by listening to a voice.  The study further revealed that the raters’ perceptions of fighting ability were synonymous with their assessment of physical strength.

Interestingly, the same did not hold true for women’s voices.  Women’s voices revealed absolutely nothing.

And importantly, the research showed that men can’t fake it.  You have to actually be strong to convey physical strength with your voice.  Even thinking that you are strong isn’t good enough:

[A]actual strength determined how strong the subject’s voice sounded to others, and not how strong the subject believed himself to be. This is the opposite of what would be predicted if men who believed themselves strong were modulating their voice and that this relationship was responsible for the relationship between physical strength and ratings of strength from the voice. This is not to say that there are not vocal cues of confidence or lack of fear that may be produced during aggressive interactions (we believe there are), but those cues are not responsible for the ability to assess strength from normal speaking voices.

So if male attorneys want to have more commanding presence, they better hit the gym or get their hands on some PEDs (roids, juice, HGH).  Ask yourself, “Do I want to be a  Justice Souter or a Justice White?”  Both were great attorneys and justices, but only one was an All-American football player.  According to the study, most people could probably tell which one was the jock by listening to their voices.  (For the record, Siouxsie prefers Justice Souter.)

And while you can’t fake physical strength with your voice, perhaps cigars and single-malt scotch might be able to mask whatever cues in the male voice indicate weakness.  No studies have confirmed this yet.

A copy of the study is at this link.

~ by siouxsielaw on June 18, 2010.

One Response to “Practice Pointer #4: Strong Body, Strong Voice”

  1. This post makes me feel like doing some push ups at my desk before I answer the phone.

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