Effects of Four Voice Qualities and Formant Dispersion on Perception of a Female Voice

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Stimuli produced by a female speaker with four different voice qualities - modal, girlish, breathy and creaky - were manipulated to have more or less formant dispersion and were rated on four scales (dominance, attractiveness, sexiness and youthfulness) by men and women. Stimuli with less formant dispersion were rated more dominant and those with more dispersed formants were rated as less dominant. Breathy voice and girlish voice were rated more attractive and sexy. Stimuli with a creaky voice were rated less attractive and sexy, as were stimuli with less formant dispersion. Girlish voices and those with greater formant dispersion were rated as more youthful; creaky voices and those with less formant dispersion were rated as less youthful. There were also gender differences in ratings of attractiveness and youthfulness. Our results suggest that women’s voice qualities can affect perceptions of their attractiveness, sexiness and youthfulness. We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of social signaling.

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