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People Are Attracted to Those Who Sound Like Them

Update Date: Feb 20, 2014 01:39 PM EST
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Nothing sounds better than the sound of voices like your own, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people prefer to listen to voices like theirs because similar voices suggest a sense of community and social belongingness.

"The voice is an amazingly flexible tool that we use to construct our identity," lead author Molly Babel, a professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of British Columbia, said in a news release. "Very few things in our voices are immutable, so we felt that our preferences had to be about more than a person's shape and size."

The latest study involved college-aged participants living in California. Participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of male and female voices from individuals living west of the Mississippi River.

The findings revealed that participants preferred voices of those who spoke in their own regional dialects.  In fact, researchers found that the strongest predictors of voice preferences are specific to the community people are from.

However, the findings also revealed significant gender differences in voice preference.

The study found that people preferred men who spoke with shorter average word lengths and "larger" sounding male voices.

However, participants preferred breathier voices like Scarlett Johansson or Marilyn Monroe to the creakier voices of the Kardashians or Ellen Page for women. Researchers said the latest findings on women supports our cultural obsession with youthfulness and health as breathier voices result from younger and thinner vocal cords. However, a creaky voice might suggest that a person has a cold, is tired or a smoker.

While the latest findings suggest that people prefer familiar voices, researchers note that exotic voices can also be appealing.

"Once you are outside of a certain range of familiarity, novel and exotic sounding voices might become more attractive," she said. "We also have to keep in mind that we find some accents more preferable than others because of social stereotypes that are associated with them."

The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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