Did you know that your voice is a dead giveaway to your personality? First impressions aren’t just about how you look.
In fact, in a study last year, researchers found that people could match voices to faces together accurately 60 percent of the time despite not knowing any of the people and having no information about them. Another study had 64 people read a passage and 320 people listen to recordings of the 64 people saying “hello“, then rating them for 10 personality traits—most of the ratings for any given individual were strikingly similar across the board.
Researchers have looked at a myriad of things from how to detect stress in voices to what the most annoying ticks in speech are. Here are a few things you can tell just by listening to the sound of someone’s voice:
Your relationship status
Researchers have found that when people are talking to someone they’ve been involved with romantically for less than a year, they tend to sound more pleasant and attractive than when talking to friends. People listening to phone call clips could determine easily whether the speaker was talking to a friend or significant other.
In a separate study, researchers listened to recordings of married partners during therapy sessions over time, and found that an algorithm could accurately identify whether the relationship was getting better or worse just by tone of voice.
Whether I should trust you
A company called Jobaline created a tool to analyze millions of audio files and use that data to predict how a person’s voice will make someone feel. After all, there are many positions where you would want to hire someone to make clients feel calm and reassured, like at a hospital, or maybe engaged and excited to try your new product.
These are mostly intuitive preferences, according to the researchers. Everyone has a unique voice signature despite being able to purposefully speak differently, and some voices just sound more trustworthy—or more soothing, or more engaging.
One speech expert says a “warm” or “rounded” quality generally conveys trustworthiness. Several studies also say that deeper voices convey this, along with power, and hence deeper-voiced political candidates tend to be more likely to win elections.
If you’re nervous
Does your voice go up at the end of a sentence? People have since coined the term “upspeak” to refer to speech patterns where people phrase sentences like questions—speech coaches say this can make someone sound indecisive and less confident, and even distract from what they are actually saying. People, especially men, with voices that are markedly higher-pitched than average also tend to seem more nervous to listeners—and sometimes also less truthful or less emphatic.
On the other hand, speaking quickly doesn’t necessarily connote nervousness and can even be more persuasive.
One study found that if you are trying to convince someone to change their mind, faster speeches tended to be more effective—possibly because the listener has less time to really think for themselves.
But being a fast-paced speaker can indicate that you’re agitated, chatty, or lack seriousness. Slow-paced talkers give the impression of being calm and composed, but can also make a conversation seem monotonous regardless of topic.
How successful you are
Because lower voices tend to indicate trustworthiness and authority, people also automatically connect this to someone who must be more successful. Authoritative or successful voices are also ones that fluctuate over the course of a sentence—these voices do not stay monotone, and change volume and pitch along with their words.
Many public figures intentionally lower their pitch while speaking to sound more expressive and appealing.
How tall you are
This one isn’t personality based, and might sound like a no brainer, but is telling nonetheless.
A 2013 study found that people could identify which speaker of five was the taller of the group just by listening to their voices. Tall people generally have larger airways and lungs, whereas shorter people have shorter airways—meaning taller people are more likely to have lower voices.