Vocal attractiveness increases by averaging

Bruckert, L., Bestelmeyer, P., Latinus, M., Rouger, J., Charest, I., Rousselet, G.A., Kawahara, I. and Belin, P. (2010) Vocal attractiveness increases by averaging. Current Biology, 20(2), pp. 116-120. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.034) (PMID:20129047)

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Vocal attractiveness has a profound influence on listeners a bias known as the what sounds beautiful is good vocal attractiveness stereotype [1] with tangible impact on a voice owner s success at mating, job applications, and/or elections. The prevailing view holds that attractive voices are those that signal desirable attributes in a potential mate [2 4] e.g., lower pitch in male voices. However, this account does not explain our preferences in more general social contexts in which voices of both genders are evaluated. Here we show that averaging voices via auditory morphing [5] results in more attractive voices, irrespective of the speaker s or listener s gender. Moreover, we show that this phenomenon is largely explained by two independent by-products of averaging: a smoother voice texture (reduced aperiodicities) and a greater similarity in pitch and timbre with the average of all voices (reduced distance to mean). These results provide the first evidence for a phenomenon of vocal attractiveness increases by averaging, analogous to a well-established effect of facial averaging [6, 7]. They highlight prototype-based coding [8] as a central feature of voice perception, emphasizing the similarity in the mechanisms of face and voice perception.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Belin, Professor Pascal and Bestelmeyer, Dr Patricia and Rousselet, Dr Guillaume and Latinus, Dr Marianne
Authors: Bruckert, L., Bestelmeyer, P., Latinus, M., Rouger, J., Charest, I., Rousselet, G.A., Kawahara, I., and Belin, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Current Biology
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Published Online:25 January 2010

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
449881Social interaction - a cognitive-neurosciences approachSimon GarrodEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/E020933/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies
429751The perception of voice gender and identity - a combined behavioural, electrophysiological and neuroimaging approachPascal BelinBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/E003958/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies