Dominant Voices and Attractive Faces: The Contribution of Visual and Auditory Information to Integrated Person Impressions

Abstract

Faces and voices, in isolation, prompt consistent social evaluations. However, most human interactions involve both seeing and talking with another person. Our main goal was to investigate how facial and vocal information are combined to reach an integrated person impression. In Study 1, we asked participants to rate faces and voices separately for perceived trustworthiness, attractiveness, and dominance. Most previous studies relied on stimuli in which extra-vocal information (e.g., verbal content, prosody) may have confounded voice-based effects; to prevent these unwanted influences, we used brief, neutral vowel sounds. Voices, like faces, led to the formation of highly reliable impressions. Voice trustworthiness correlated with voice attractiveness, mirroring the relation between face trustworthiness and attractiveness, but did not correlate with voice dominance. Inconsistent with the possibility that face and voice evaluations are indicative of real character traits, we found no positive correlations between judgments of trustworthiness or dominance based on faces and the same judgments based on voices (there was also no correlation between face attractiveness and voice attractiveness). In Study 2, we asked participants to evaluate male targets after seeing their faces and hearing their voices. Faces and voices contributed equally to judgments of trustworthiness and combined to produce a significant interaction effect. For attractiveness, faces were given more weight than voices, possibly due to the predominantly visual character of the attractiveness concept (there was no interaction effect). For dominance, the reverse pattern was true, with voices having a larger effect than faces on final judgments. In this case the auditory cues may be perceived to be more reliable because of the strong links between voice pitch, masculinity, and dominance.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Following one reviewer’s suggestion, we also analyzed the OT data. Most of the results reported for WB stimuli hold for OT stimuli. We choose not to report/interpret them because the low reliability of judgments involving these stimuli precludes one from drawing firm conclusions.

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Acknowledgments

C.R. was supported by a Ph.D. fellowship from Axa Research Fund. M.J.B. was supported by the British Academy (PF100123) and ESRC (ES/K00882X/1).

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Correspondence to Constantin Rezlescu.

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Rezlescu, C., Penton, T., Walsh, V. et al. Dominant Voices and Attractive Faces: The Contribution of Visual and Auditory Information to Integrated Person Impressions. J Nonverbal Behav 39, 355–370 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-015-0214-8

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Keywords

  • Person perception
  • Trait judgments
  • Voice evaluations
  • Trustworthiness
  • Dominance