People Will Know We Are in Love: Evidence of Differences Between Vocal Samples Directed Toward Lovers and Friends

Abstract

Research has documented the tendency for individuals to change their voices as a function of different emotional and motivational states, but little attention has been devoted to examining voice modulation in romantic relationships. The present research was conducted to determine (1) the way in which individuals alter their voices when speaking to romantic partners versus friends and (2) if independent raters perceive these differences. Independent raters (N = 80) listened to vocal clips obtained from telephone calls directed toward close same-sex friends and romantic partners. For several clips, raters were able to identify conversational partner (romantic versus friend) with greater than chance accuracy, and this accuracy was positively correlated with vocal pitch and perceived romantic interest. In addition, raters who listened to content-filtered clips judged callers less favorably when talking to their romantic partners than their friends. Results are interpreted in light of the “longing” but vulnerable condition of intense romantic love, and integrated into affection exchange theory and communication accommodation theory.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Afifi, W. A., & Faulkner, S. L. (2000). On being ‘just friends’: The frequency and impact of sexual activity in cross-sex friendships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(2), 205–222. doi:10.1177/0265407500172003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ambady, N., Hallahan, M., & Conner, B. (1999). Accuracy of judgments of sexual orientation from thin slices of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(3), 538–547. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.3.538.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Anolli, L., & Ciceri, R. (2002). Analysis of the vocal profiles of male seduction: From exhibition to self-disclosure. Journal of General Psychology, 129, 149–169. doi:10.1080/00221300209603135.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aron, A., Fisher, H., Mashek, D. J., Strong, G., Li, H., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Reward, motivation, and emotion systems associated with early-stage intense romantic love. Journal of Neurophysiology, 94, 327–337. doi:10.1152/jn.00838.2004.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Banse, R., & Scherer, K. R. (1996). Acoustic profiles in vocal emotion expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 614–636. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.614.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bänziger, T., & Scherer, K. R. (2005). The role of intonation in emotional expressions. Speech Communication, 46, 252–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Boersma, P., & Weenink, D. J. M. (2009). Praat: Doing phonetics by computer (version 5.1.08). Retrieved April 15, 2009, from http://www.praat.org/.

  8. Bombar, M. L., & Littig, L. W., Jr. (1996). Babytalk as a communication of intimate attachment: An initial study in adult romances and friendships. Personal Relationships, 3, 137–158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2010). Nonverbal communication. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Capella, J. N. (1997). Behavioral and judged coordination in adult informal social interactions: Vocal and kinesics indicators. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(1), 119–131. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.72.1.119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 893–910.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chartrand, T., & Dalton, A. N. (2009). Mimicry: Its ubiquity, importance, and functionality. In E. Morsella, J. A. Bargh, P. M. Gollwitzer, E. Morsella, J. A. Bargh, & P. M. Gollwitzer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of human action (pp. 458–483). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Collins, S. A., & Missing, C. (2003). Vocal and visual attractiveness are related in women. Animal Behaviour, 65(5), 997–1004. doi:10.1006/anbe.2003.2123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ekman, P. (1993). Facial expression and emotion. American Psychologist, 48(4), 384–392. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.48.4.384.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Fichtel, C., Perry, S., & Gros-Louis, J. (2005). Alarm calls of white-faced capuchin monkeys: An acoustic analysis. Animal Behaviour, 70(1), 165–176. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2004.09.020.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fisher, H. (2000). Lust, attraction, attachment: Biology and evolution of the three primary emotion systems for mating, reproduction, and parenting. Journal of Sex Education & Therapy, 25(1), 96–104.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Fisher, H. (2006). The drive to love: The neural mechanism for mate selection. In R. J. Sternberg, K. Weis, R. J. Sternberg, & K. Weis (Eds.), The new psychology of love (pp. 87–115). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Floyd, K., Judd, J., & Hesse, C. (2008). Affection exchange theory. In L. A. Baxter, D. O. Braithewaite, L. A. Baxter, & D. O. Braithewaite (Eds.), Engaging theories in interpersonal communication: Multiple perspectives (pp. 285–293). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Floyd, K., & Ray, G. B. (2003). Human affection exchange: IV, Vocalic predictors of perceived affection in initial interactions. Western Journal of Communication, 67, 56–73.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Gallup, G. G., Jr, & Cameron, P. A. (1992). Modality specific metaphors: Is our mental machinery ‘‘colored’’ by a visual bias? Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 7, 93–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gifford, R. (1994). A lens mapping framework for understanding the encoding and decoding of interpersonal dispositions in nonverbal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 398–412.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Gifford, R. (2006). Personality and nonverbal behavior: A complex conundrum. In V. Manusov & M. Patterson (Eds.), The Sage handbook of nonverbal communication (pp. 159–179). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Giles, H. (2008). Communication accommodation theory. In L. A. Baxter, D. O. Braithewaite, L. A. Baxter, & D. O. Braithewaite (Eds.), Engaging theories in interpersonal communication: Multiple perspectives (pp. 161–173). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Gregory, S. W. (1990). Analysis of fundamental frequency reveals covariation in interview partners’ speech. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 14, 237–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gregory, S. W., Dagan, K., & Webster, S. (1997). Evaluating the relation of vocal accommodation in conversation partners’ fundamental frequencies to perceptions of communication quality. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 21(1), 23–43. doi:10.1023/A:1024995717773.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Gregory, S., Webster, S., & Huang, G. (1993). Voice pitch and amplitude convergence as a metric of quality in dyadic interviews. Language & Communication, 13(3), 195–217. doi:10.1016/0271-5309(93)90026-J.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Guerrero, L. K. (1997). Nonverbal involvement across interactions with same-sex friends, opposite-sex friends and romantic partners: Consistency or change. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 31–58. doi:10.1177/0265407597141002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Halatsis, P., & Christakis, N. (2009). The challenge of sexual attraction within heterosexuals’ cross-sex friendship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(6–7), 919–937. doi:10.1177/0265407509345650.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hall, J. A., & Braunwald, K. G. (1981). Gender cues in conversations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40(1), 99–110. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.40.1.990022-3514.40.1.99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1993). Love, sex, and intimacy: Their psychology, biology, and history. New York: HarperCollins.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. (1996). Love and sex: Cross-cultural perspectives. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Hughes, S. M., Dispenza, F., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2004). Ratings of voice attractiveness predict sexual behavior and body configuration. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25, 295–304. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.06.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hughes, S. M., Farley, S. D., & Rhodes, B. C. (2010). Vocal and physiological changes in response to the physical attractiveness of conversational partners. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 34, 155–167. doi:10.1007/s10919-010-0087-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2002). The sound of symmetry: Voice as a marker of developmental instability. Evolution and Human Behavior, 23, 173–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Karremans, J. C., & Verwijmeren, T. (2008). Mimicking attractive opposite-sex others: The role of romantic relationship status. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 939–950. doi:10.1177/0146167208316693.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Koeppel, L. B., Montagne-Miller, Y., O’Hair, D., & Cody, M. J. (1993). Friendly? Flirting? Wrong? In P. J. Kalbfleisch (Ed.), Interpersonal communication: Evolving interpersonal relationships (pp. 13–32). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Montepare, J. M., & Vega, C. (1988). Women’s vocal reactions to intimate and casual male friends. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 14, 103–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Munson, B., McDonald, E. C., DeBoe, N. L., & White, A. R. (2006). The acoustic and perceptual bases of judgments of women and men’s sexual orientation from read speech. Journal of Phonetics, 34(2), 202–240. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2005.05.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Noller, P. (1980). Misunderstanding in marital communication: A study of couples’ nonverbal communication. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(6), 1135–1148. doi:10.1037/h0077716.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Rule, N. O., & Ambady, N. (2008). Brief exposures: Male sexual orientation is accurately perceived at 50 ms. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(4), 1100–1105. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2007.12.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams, R., Jr, & Macrae, C. (2008). Accuracy and awareness in the perception and categorization of male sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1019–1028. doi:10.1037/a0013194.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., & Hallett, K. C. (2009). Female sexual orientation is perceived accurately, rapidly, and automatically from the face and its features. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1245–1251. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2009.07.010.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Scherer, K. R. (1986). Vocal affect expression: A review and a model for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 143–165. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.99.2.143.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Scherer, K. R. (2003). Vocal communication of emotion: A review of research paradigms. Speech Communication, 40(1), 227. doi:10.1016/S0167-6393(02)00084-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Snyder, M., Tanke, E. D., & Berscheid, E. (1977). Social perception and interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 656–666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93(2), 119–135. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.93.2.119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Streeter, L. A., Krauss, R. M., Geller, V. J., Olson, C. T., & Apple, W. (1977). Pitch changes during attempted deception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 345–350. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.35.5.345.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Tuomi, S. K., & Fisher, J. E. (1979). Characteristics of a simulated sexy voice. Folia Phoniatrica, 31, 242–249.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Waller, W. W., & Hill, R. (1951). The family: A dynamic interpretation. New York: Dryden Press.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Zuckerman, M., & Driver, R. E. (1989). What sounds beautiful is good: The vocal attractiveness stereotype. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 13(2), 67–82. doi:10.1007/BF00990791.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Judy Hall and Miles Patterson for their guidance on earlier versions of this manuscript, and Lisa Stickney for her assistance with Visio. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sally Farley.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sally D. Farley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Farley, S.D., Hughes, S.M. & LaFayette, J.N. People Will Know We Are in Love: Evidence of Differences Between Vocal Samples Directed Toward Lovers and Friends. J Nonverbal Behav 37, 123–138 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-013-0151-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Voice
  • Affect expression
  • Romantic love
  • Vocal accommodation theory
  • Paralanguage