My Voice Is Better than Yours

Posted on September 14, 2013

Research by Albright College psychology professor Susan Hughes, Ph.D., suggests we unconciously perceive our own voices as sounding more attractive than others (flickr)

A new study by Albright College associate professor of psychology Susan Hughes, Ph.D., has found that people unknowingly assessed their own recorded voice as sounding more attractive in comparison to how others rated their voices, which is considered a form of unconscious self-enhancement.

“People generally tend to have an enhanced sense about themselves,” said Hughes. “Often people will think they have more attractive or possess better qualities than they actually do. This is sometimes used as a mechanism to build self-esteem or fight against depression.”

The findings are included in a new article, “I Like My Voice Better: Self-Enhancement Bias in Perceptions of Voice Attractiveness,” to be published later this month in the scholarly journal Perception. The study is co-authored by Marissa Harrison, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Penn State University’s Harrisburg campus.

For the study, 80 men and women assessed the voice attractiveness of an array of different voice recordings of people counting from one to 10. Unbeknownst to participants, researchers included three different samples of participants’ own voice recordings in the group. Researchers believe that most participants did not recognize or realize their own voices were included, yet rated their own voices as sounding more attractive than how other raters judged their voices. Participants also rated their own voices more favorably than they had rated the voices of other people.

“Given this age of heightened narcissism, this study provides further evidence that individuals seem to inflate their opinions of themselves by thinking the sound of their own voices is more attractive,” said Hughes.

The article suggests that participants may have also preferred their own voice due to a mere exposure effect and the tendency to like the familiar. This effect may have still been a factor even if participants were not overtly aware they were hearing their own voice, according to the study.

Hughes, an expert in evolutionary psychology and voice perception, was surprised by the results, especially since many people report not liking the sound of their recorded voice. There is a distinct biological difference in how we hear our speaking voice internally compared to hearing a recorded version. “People are often vexed when they hear the sound of their own voice as a recording,” said Hughes.

Source material from Albright College