What makes a voice more attractive or memorable?

 “Voice is a profound difference between men and women, and it colors every human interaction we have.”  David Puts, anthropologist at Michigan State University, as quoted in Why Do Men Have Deeper Voices Than Women, via NPR

Nine months ago, I placed an order for a sofa through Room and Board. When I called to schedule the delivery, I spoke with someone named Andre. Andre’s voice was completely unexpected. It’s not the kind of voice you expect to find answering phones at a furniture retailer. It’s a made-for-radio voice, exceedingly deep and smooth, and yes, undeniably sexy.

Today, I called Room and Board to schedule a technician to come to my home to repair the upholstery on the same sofa. Like anyone, I made dozens of impersonal calls throughout the year, and speak with dozens of people about the boring details that one must attend to–airlines, the electrical company, the garbage company, the cable company, etc. I never expect to talk to the same person twice, and, unless it’s a very small company, to my knowledge I rarely do.

But a strange thing happened today when I called Room and Board. Andre answered. And the second he said, “Hello, you’ve reached Room and Board,” before he identified himself, I knew that it was Andre. And it was. My heart did a little flip. I mean, it’s that kind of voice, utterly distinct and uncannily memorable.

Which got me to wondering: what makes one voice more memorable than another?

I found some interesting information about the way we react to other people’s voices on PsyBlog, in the post, 10 Ways Your Voice Influences Other Minds. This post focuses more on attractiveness of a person’s voice than memorability, but one item that jumped out at me was number 3: Women are attracted to deeper voices. I get it. This makes sense. My husband has a deep voice, and when I think back, in my dating years, I only had serious relationships with deep-voiced men. Actors with high or thin voices always make me uncomfortable–Ben Affleck comes to mind.

The why of women’s attraction to deeper voices is surprising, however, not to mention fascinating: deeper voices are indicative not of good looks or above-average height, but of increased weight. That’s right:

In other words, men with deeper voices can just as easily be short, fat and totally lacking in muscles or a hairy chest.

For women, it’s the opposite, according to the PsyBlog article. Men are attracted to higher voices–which might be why, ladies, no matter your age, during certain points in your monthly cycle you’ll notice that men are paying more attention to you, even when you don’t feel you’re looking your best. During ovulation, when a woman is ripe to be impregnated, her voice is higher.

The question I began with, when writing this post, was, “What makes a voice memorable?” Surprisingly, while there are numerous articles about what makes a voice attractive or sexy, articles on what makes a voice memorable were exceedingly hard to come by–which is why the title of this post changed to “What makes a voice more attractive or memorable?” Perhaps how memorable a voice is depends upon how attractive or sexy it is.

I realize I’m being a bit lazy here. When you can’t find the answer to a question, it’s preferable to look harder, further, and longer…rather than simply changing the question. But because “What makes a voice attractive?” is an equally fascinating question to me, I’ll stick with it for now.

Related reading:

You Must Remember This: What Makes Something Memorable? by Christoph Koch via Scientific American

Why An Attractive Voice Means a Good Mate: The Science of Sex, by Brie Cadman, via Divine Caroline

What Makes a Voice Attractive? Familiarity Plays a Key Role, Study Says, via Global News

But it’s our social groups that help us determine which voices we like to hear the most. And we especially preferred voices that are specific to the community we’re part of.

Why Do Men Have Deeper Voices Than Women, by Erin Engelhaupt, via NPR

Our voices each have a variety of “formants” — different frequencies that we regularly hit while we speak. Formant dispersion describes whether our usual frequencies are spaced closely together (a shrill or monotone voice) or far apart (an NPR host). The broader the range, the “fuller” the voice.

Women Can Make Their Voice Sexier, But Men Can’t, via The Daily Mail

How to Be the Most Memorable Person it the Room via Huffington Post

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