According to a new study conducted by a research team led by professor Susan Hughes, from the Albright College, in the United States, both men and women experience alterations in their voices when speaking to their lovers, in comparison to speaking to their friends and family. Hughes suggests that these voice variations might be used in the future to detect infidelity in couples.
Hughes, who is an associate professor and an expert in evolutionary psychology, reports that the changes of our voice can be easily perceived by others as well, if they pay close attention. Her findings were published in an article from the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, at the start of the month. The research team, comprised of Hughes, Jack LaFayette and Sally Farley, shows how and individual’s voice alters when speaking over the phone with either their close, same-sex friends, or their romantic partners. In order to conduct their study, researchers invited a total number of 24 participants. Each participant was considered to be “newly in love”, as they were all recruited during their honeymoon period. All 24 participants were asked to call their romantic partner, and their closest same-sex friend. The conversations were short and very specific, including lines such as “What are you doing?” and “How are you?”.
For the second part of the study, the research team played the recording of the 24 participants to 80 independent individuals who were asked to judge the phone conversations based on 3 criteria. The criteria were romantic interest, sexiness, and pleasantness. Despite the fact that some of the judges were only exposed to the conversations for less than 2 seconds, while other judges only heard one end of the conversation, the majority were able to accurately identify if the person to whom the caller was speaking to was their romantic partner or their friend.
The results of the study suggest that the vocal samples that were directed towards each participants’ romantic partner sounded sexier and more pleasant, while also reflecting a higher romantic interest. Furthermore, the research team used a spectrogram analysis on the voice samples. The results of the spectrogram analysis show that both men and women are more likely to mimic, or even match, their romantic partner’s voice pitch. Men are more likely to use a higher pitch while speaking to their romantic partners, while women are more likely to use a lower pitch in the same situation. The research team suggests that these results show that both romantic partners are trying to communicate both affection and relational connection in a more intimate way.
However, researchers were startled by the fact that the paralanguage analysis test showed that the voices of the participants showed stress, lack of confidence and nervousness, when speaking on the phone with their romantic partners. The paralanguage analysis is done by taking out-of-context bits of the voice samples while also maintaining intonation and inflection.
Hughes concludes that the subjects, who were newly in love, were perhaps experiencing the fear of rejection.