You might not realize it, but you really do like the sound of your own voice.
According to a new study from Albright College’s Susan Hughes, Ph.D., people unwittingly rated recordings of their own voice as more attractive sounding compared to how others rated their voices. This is believed to be 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 detailed in a new article, “I Like My Voice Better: Self-Enhancement Bias in Perceptions of Voice Attractiveness,” in the journal Perception. The paper is co-authored by Marissa Harrison, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Penn State University’s Harrisburg campus.
Singing in the Rain
In the study, 80 men and women rated the voice attractiveness of an assortment of different voice recordings of people counting from one to 10. Unknown to the participants, researchers incorporated three different samples of the participants’ own voice recordings in the group.
Researchers think that most participants did not recognize their own voices were included. However the participants assessed 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 Familiarity Principle
Study participants may have also preferred their own voice, the article suggests, 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.
The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people tend to develop a preference for things simply because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is often known as the familiarity principle.
The effect has been demonstrated with many kinds of things, including words, paintings, Chinese characters, geometric figures, pictures of faces, and sounds. In studies of inter-personal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likable that person appears to be.
Professor Hughes is an expert in evolutionary psychology and voice perception, but even she was surprised by the results, in particular since many people report not liking the sound of their recorded voice.
There is a large 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.