Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sounding tall: Listeners can distinguish the voices of tall versus short people

Date:
December 3, 2013
Source:
Acoustical Society of America (ASA)
Summary:
Our voice can reveal a lot about us: our age, our gender, and now – it seems – our height as well. A new study found that listeners can accurately determine the relative heights of speakers just by listening to them talk. The key clue may be contained in a particular type of sound produced in the lower airways of the lungs, known as a subglottal resonance.

Our voice can reveal a lot about us: our age, our gender, and now -- it seems -- our height as well.
Credit: taka / Fotolia

Our voice can reveal a lot about us: our age, our gender, and now -- it seems -- our height as well. A new study by researchers at Washington University, UCLA, and Indiana University found that listeners can accurately determine the relative heights of speakers just by listening to them talk. The key clue may be contained in a particular type of sound produced in the lower airways of the lungs, known as a subglottal resonance.

John Morton, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis, will present the study at the 166th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, to be held Dec. 2-6 in San Francisco, Calif.

"The best way to think about subglottal resonances is to imagine blowing into a glass bottle partially full with liquid: the less liquid in the bottle, the lower the sound," Morton explained. The frequency of the subglottal resonance differs depending on the height of the person generating it, with resonances becoming progressively lower as height increases.

"In humans, the resonances are part of a larger group of sounds, which are sort of like an orchestra playing over the sound being made from the glass bottle. [The glass bottle] sound is still there, but it isn't easy to hear."

Despite the masking of the subglottal resonance by other voice sounds, Morton and his colleagues wondered if the key information it contained could still be heard by listeners. Through two sets of experiments, he and his colleagues put the theory to the test. In the first, pairs of same-sexed "talkers" of different heights were recorded as they read identical sentences. Later, the recordings were played to listeners who guessed which of the two speakers was the tallest. In the second experiment, listeners ranked five talkers (again of the same gender) from tallest to shortest, after hearing them read.

The researchers found that participants were able to accurately discriminate the taller speaker 62.17 percent of the time, which is significantly more often than they would by chance alone. "Both males and females were equally able to discriminate and rank the heights of talkers" of both genders, Morton said.

The research, Morton says, has criminal justice implications. "One would certainly like to know if, when an 'ear witness,' as they are often called, says that a talker's voice seemed 'tall' or 'large,' this information can be trusted. The answer seems to be yes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "Sounding tall: Listeners can distinguish the voices of tall versus short people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203161543.htm>.
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). (2013, December 3). Sounding tall: Listeners can distinguish the voices of tall versus short people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203161543.htm
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "Sounding tall: Listeners can distinguish the voices of tall versus short people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203161543.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins