Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sexy Voice = Sexy Looks?

It seems people don't just take physical looks into consideration when concluding if a potential mate is hot or not. In a recent study published in The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (gee, that sounds like an exciting read) Susan Hughes found a strong correlation between what's considered a "sexy voice" and a physically attractive person.

"The sound of a person's voice reveals a considerable amount of biological information," said Hughes, an evolutionary psychologist from Albright College in Reading, Pa. "It can reflect the mate value of a person."

100 individuals listened to voice samples and rated them on nine traits: approachability, dominance, healthiness, honesty, intelligence, likelihood to get dates, maturity, sexiness and warmth.

Interestingly, the voices that rated the highest generally were considered attractive for their respective sex. Men were broad-shouldered and had lean hips, the women had hourglass figures. The sexy voice champs from both sexes also had very attractive faces (symmetrical).

Participants also agreed about certain vocal attributes that they found attractive (i.e. men found breathy voices sexy). But when Hughes analyzed her voice samples using a sophisticated computer program, she was unable to pinpoint the actual patterns of sexiness. In other words, the human ear was able to discern what's hot, while the computer couldn't find any technical reason why.

I'm skeptical of this study. I know plenty of people that look attractive, but have horrible voices. Also, there are lots of ugly people that sound incredible on the phone. When I was in high school, I worked at a marketing research firm and did telephone surveys. There was one guy that always ended up with the most completed surveys, night after night. His voice was deep and smooth like velvet. If you heard it, it would make you stop. But after you turned the corner and looked into his cubicle, you would see a guy that made John Belushi look like Brad Pitt.

Plus, think about all of those radio personalities. Ever see pictures of your favorite host or DJ after listening to their sexy voice for years? Talk about a ruined fantasy. That's where that old saying "you have the face for radio" comes from.