The voice on the other end of the telephone is alluring, and the image in your mind is too. But can you hear what a person looks like? Maybe so.
And when you speak up, be careful. It seems that a voice may also convey information on your sex life.
When researchers asked volunteers to listen to recordings of people counting to 10 and rate the attractiveness of the voices, they found that the voices rated highest belonged to people having more active sex lives. Moreover, their physical characteristics (broad shoulders and narrow hips in men, narrow waist and broad hips in women, and symmetry in both) conformed to conventional notions of attractiveness.
An author of the study, Dr. Gordon G. Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany, pointed out the obvious, that the voice instantly conveyed basic information about a person's sex and age, but he said the voice also ''seems to be a medium for the transmission of biologically relevant information.''
The study, in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, was led by Dr. Susan M. Hughes, who now teaches at Vassar.
One hundred forty-nine undergraduates were asked to record their voices and then, without seeing the other speakers, rate the attractiveness of their voices on a scale of 1 (''very unattractive'') to 5 (''very attractive''). Half the students were also asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire about their sexual history.
The students with the best-rated voices reported having had sex at an earlier age and having had more sexual partners, the study said.
The men and women in the study rated the voices of both sexes, but the ratings given by the opposite sex were more accurate at predicting the speaker's appearance and sexual experience.
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