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JeffVader's avatar

What can you determine about a person from the sound of their voice?

Asked by JeffVader (5416points) March 2nd, 2010

Most of us are aware, to a degree, of voice analysis. Thanks to movies, such as Enemy of the State, illustrating how stress can be detected etc. However, on a human level, can we determine things about a persons personality by their voice…...

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27 Answers

belakyre's avatar

To be honest…i met a guy with a nasally voice…and though he sounds annoying, he has an amazingly warped sense of humor! (in a good way…to me at least). Though a voice analysis can detect things like stress…you’re going to have to look a lot deeper to find about one’s personality…because “appearances” (voices in this case, I guess) can be deceiving.

partyparty's avatar

No I don’t think we can.

Some people naturally have a very calming voice, where they speak slowly and reassuringly.

Other people will speak at a high pitch, and in a very quick way, which sounds that they are stressful people.

Yet other people will speak very loudly, which makes them appear intimidating and domineering.

I don’t think you can really determine a persons personality purely by their voice.
You have to know them bettter before you can judge their personality,

rooeytoo's avatar

Apparently not much. I am a 65 year old female and am frequently assumed to be an adolescent male on the phone????

Pandora's avatar

I don’t believe in voice analysis. I’ve met people who voice or tone can seem like they are lying when they really are just uncomfortable around other people and are a bit shy. I’ve also met people who can be very reassuring when they are a wreck inside. You have to have some knowledge of the person to know how they would normally react to pick up a difference in the tone of their voice. I’ve been told sometimes that I sound very reassuring when I know I was a wreck inside, or I sound nervous when I would pause and I may have been asked something that I truly have no opinion on.
An example. My kids and husband will sometimes take my indifference to something they said as me being disapproving. However, it was just a matter that I didn’t care enough about the subject to offer an opinion one way or the other. God forbid I say the word fine. Then deep down inside I am upset. (according to them)

Cruiser's avatar

Tone, volume and inflection are spice on the choice of words. Consider any one sentence ever typed here on the internet and how much different those words could mean just by hearing those words spoken. We can emphasize the text but still lack the true meaning of what is being conveyed by this absence of sound. At the same time to close your eyes and simply here the words being spoken may tell you almost all you need to know about the person in terms of sincerity, honestly and integrity.

Nullo's avatar

I can usually tell the sex, age (within a few decades), and probable dialect region.

john65pennington's avatar

Anger can be detected in a persons voice very easily. also, excitability.

To prove this point, you should listen to some police 911 tapes from citizens that are either one of the above.

partyparty's avatar

@john65pennington Yes I have heard peoples voices on TV where they are ringing the emergency services. Even I become distressed listening to them… the urgency in their voices tells its own story doesn’t it?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Professionalism or lack thereof.

JeffVader's avatar

@Pandora Haha, well, we all know that ‘fine’ is woman code for, you’re in deep sh…....

marinelife's avatar

I think that voice is like looks, an accident of genetics that tells nothing about character.

Sophief's avatar

I suppose you can imagine how someone will sound. I recently spoke to someone that I have never spoken to before and I imagined that persons voice to be quite different from what it was. From I knew about that person I expected their voice to be somewhat rough and streetwise maybe and casual. Turned out it was a lot sweeter and more gentle than I imagined.

john65pennington's avatar

Dibley, you can’t judge a book by looking(listening) to its cover. right?

Sophief's avatar

@john65pennington This is true, that person could be a complete lunatic for all I know, just sounded nice, that’s all.

Just_Justine's avatar

I love this question. I find voices overall important. I once dated, I did say dated, a beautiful woman who had the most high pitched voice ever. I just simply could not connect with her. It was an absolute shame really. She was a wonderful person. But I could not get past her voice. I don’t know how it made me perceive her? Perhaps “faulty” in some way. (I know that sounded terrible.). I have a very soft girlish voice, which annoys me, as I think I am stronger than my voice.

JeffVader's avatar

@Just_Justine Dont be, soft, girlish voices are perfect on ladies…. not so great on us men but…

food's avatar

I think you can learn a bit about the speaker´s personality, but it needs to be set within a context, in other words, just like any other personality test, you need to get to know the person to be able to make a better evaluation. It´s unfair to make assumptions about a person otherwise. And yes, you can inmediately get information about the person´s mood most easily from the tone of voice.

food's avatar

Oh, and I agree with some of the comments above that say that perception can also be deceiving. To start with, different cultures have different opinions about what is acceptable or annoying. Some cultures tend to favor soft-spoken people over loud-spoken people, and vice versa.
http://www.affective-sciences.org/system/files/1972_Scherer_JPers.pdf

Trillian's avatar

I can sometimes tell race and gender. Many Black men have a particular full throat quality to their voices that I have yet to hear in any other race. Caucasian women are often different from Black or Asian women. The first time I spoke to a woman on the phone and just knew without asking that she was Asian was pretty cool for me. I already enjoy linguistics and word origins, and would often ask people about their descent because of an unusual last name, so this was like an extension of that for me.
I worked two different call centers a few years ago, so I had a chance to kind of “hone” this, or at least put it into practice.
One can also tell state of temper and a few demographics, to some extent. Education level, region sometimes, and personality traits shine through frequently.

Sandydog's avatar

No – I often speak to people on the phone at work, and more often than not when I meet them they turn out to be different from what my mind conjured up soley through their voice.

ChaosCross's avatar

Their mood, how they feel towards you, what they expect as a response from you.

A few things that can be communicated by voice…

stardust's avatar

Oh I do like this question!
I can tell a lot from a person’s voice…or at least I can conjure up a nice little profile!
Personality traits usually shine through quite well. I can become quite animated when I’m talking about things I enjoy, etc. Stress and intonation play a role. I can usually determine a person’s sincerity. I almost always know when a person thinks my ideas are wacky in the way their tone softens and they challenge me gently – poor souls don’t know that wacky ideas usually = good ideas.
Anyway, to sum up, it depends on the context

tinyfaery's avatar

Nothing that wouldn’t be an assumption on my part.

Faze44's avatar

Zilch, pre-judgement of the voice not wise. If lucky enough to meet them it can be amusing,exhilaration or disappointment when putting face to the voice.

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