How do you say 'hello'? Personality impressions from brief novel voices

Phil McAleer, Alexander Todorov, Pascal Belin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Scopus citations

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) 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere90779
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 12 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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