The Social Voice Space

How do you say ‘Hello’? Personality impressions from brief novel voices.
P. McAleer, A. Todorov & P. Belin
PLOS ONE

Abstract: On hearing a novel voice, listeners readily form personality impressions of that speaker. Accurate or not, these impressions are known to affect subsequent interactions; yet the underlying psychological and acoustical bases remain poorly understood. Furthermore, hitherto studies have focussed on extended speech as opposed to analysing the instantaneous impressions we obtain from first experience. In this paper, through a mass online rating experiment, 320 participants rated 64 sub-second vocal utterances of the word ‘hello’ on one of 10 personality traits. We show that: (1) personality judgements of brief utterances from unfamiliar speakers are consistent across listeners; (2) a two-dimensional ‘social voice space’ with axes mapping Valence (Trust, Likeability) and Dominance, each driven by differing combinations of vocal acoustics, adequately summarises ratings in both male and female voices; and (3) that a positive combination of Valence and Dominance results in increased perceived male vocal Attractiveness, whereas perceived female vocal Attractiveness is largely controlled by increasing Valence. Results are discussed in relation to the rapid evaluation of personality and, in turn, the intent of others, as being driven by survival mechanisms via approach or avoidance behaviours. These findings provide empirical bases for predicting personality impressions from acoustical analyses of short utterances and for generating desired personality impressions in artificial voices.


Hello Artwork by Chris Hannah Art Design
A Trustworthy Male
An Untrustworthy Male
A Trustworthy Female
An Untrustworthy Female
A Dominant Male
An Non-Dominant Male
A Dominant Female
An Non-Dominant Female

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