Skip to main content

On Voice Averaging and Attractiveness

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Voice Attractiveness

Part of the book series: Prosody, Phonology and Phonetics ((PRPHPH))

Abstract

Several experiments investigating the perceptual, acoustical and neural bases of the ‘voice attractiveness averaging phenomenon’ are briefly summarized. We show that synthetic voice composites generated by averaging multiple (same gender) individual voices (short syllables) are perceived as increasingly attractive with the number of voices averaged. This phenomenon, independent of listener or speaker gender and analogous to a similar effect in the visual domain for face attractiveness, is explained in part by two acoustical correlates of averaging: reduced ‘Distance-to-Mean’, as indexed by the Euclidean distance between a voice and its same-gender population average in f0-F1 space and increased voice ‘texture smoothness’ as indexed by increased harmonics-to-noise ratio (HNR). These two acoustical parameters co-vary with perceived attractiveness and manipulating them independently of one another also affects attractiveness ratings. The neural correlates of implicitly perceived attractiveness consist in a highly significant negative correlation between attractiveness and fMRI signal in large areas of bilateral auditory cortex, largely overlapping with the Temporal Voice Areas, as well as inferior prefrontal cortex: more attractive voices elicit less activity in these regions. While the correlations in auditory areas were largely explained by distance-to-mean and HNR, inferior prefrontal areas bilaterally were observed even after co-varying out variance explained by these acoustical parameters, suggesting a role as abstract voice attractiveness evaluators.

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

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Anwander, A., Tittgemeyer, M., von Cramon, D. Y., Friederici, A. D., & Knosche, T. R. (2007). Connectivity-based parcellation of Broca’s area. Cerebral Cortex, 17(4), 816–825.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arnott, S. R., Grady, C. L., Hevenor, S. J., Graham, S., & Alain, C. (2005). The functional organization of auditory working memory as revealed by fMRI. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17, 819–831.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Belin, P., Zatorre, R. J., Lafaille, P., Ahad, P., & Pike, B. (2000). Voice-selective areas in human auditory cortex. Nature, 403, 309–312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bestelmeyer, P. E., Latinus, M., Bruckert, L., Rouger, J., Crabbe, F. & Belin, P. (2012). Implicitly perceived vocal attractiveness modulates prefrontal cortex activity. Cereb Cortex 22, 1263–1270, https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhr204

  • Braun, C., Gruendl, M., Marberger, C., & Scherber, C. (2001). Beautycheck—Ursachen und Folgen von Attraktivitae.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bruckert, L., Bestelmeyer, P., Latinus, M., Rouger, J., Charest, I., Rousselet, G. A., et al. (2010). Vocal attractiveness increases by averaging. Current Biology, 20(2), 116–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Galton, F. (1878). Composite portraits. Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 8, 132–144.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grammer, K., Fink, B., Moller, A. P., & Thornhill, R. (2003). Darwinian aesthetics: Sexual selection and the biology of beauty. Biological Reviews, 78(3), 385–407.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hillenbrand, J. M., Getty, L. A., Clark, M. J., & Wheeler, K. (1995). Acoustic characteristics of American English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 3099–3111.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jastrow, J. (1885). Composite portraiture. Science, 6, 165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kawahara, H., & Matsui, H. (2003). Auditory morphing based on an elastic perceptual distance metric in an interference-free time-frequency representation. InProceedings of the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (pp. 256–259).

    Google Scholar 

  • Langlois, J. H., & Roggman, L. A. (1990). Attractive faces are only average. Psychological Science, 1(2), 115–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., & Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126(3), 390–423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Latinus, M., & Belin, P. (2011). Anti-voice adaptation suggests prototype-based coding of voice identity. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 175. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Latinus, M., McAleer, P., Bestelmeyer, P. E., & Belin, P. (2013). Norm-based coding of voice identity in human auditory cortex. Current Biology, 23(12), 1075–1080.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leopold, D. A., Bondar, I. V., & Giese, M. A. (2006). Norm-based face encoding by single neurons in the monkey inferotemporal cortex. Nature, 442(7102), 572–575.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martinkauppi, S., Rama, P., Aronen, H. J., Korvenoja, A., & Carlson, S. (2000). Working memory of auditory localization. Cereb Cortex, 10, 889–898.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pernet, C., Charest, I., Belizaire, G., Zatorre, R. J., & Belin, P. (2007). The temporal voice area (TVA): Spatial characterization and variability. Neuroimage, 36, S1–S168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perrett, D. I., May, K. A., & Yoshikawa, S. (1994). Facial shape and judgements of female attractiveness. Nature, 368, 239–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Petrides, M., & Pandya, D. N. (2009). Distinct parietal and temporal pathways to the homologues of Broca’s area in the monkey. PLOS Biology, 7, e1000170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thornhill, R., & Gangestad, S. W. (1999). Facial attractiveness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3(12), 452–460.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winkielman, P., Halberstadt, J., Fazendeiro, T., & Catty, S. (2006). Prototypes are attractive because they are easy on the mind. Psychological Science, 17(9), 799–806.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winston, J. S., O’Doherty, J., Kilner, J. M., Perrett, D. I., & Dolan, R. J. (2007). Brain systems for assessing facial attractiveness. Neuropsychologia, 45(1), 195–206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.05.009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yovel, G., & Belin, P. (2013). A unified coding strategy for processing faces and voices. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(6), 263–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

I gratefully acknowledge my co-authors on publications discussed above: Laetita Bruckert, Patricia E.G. Bestelmeyer, Marianne Latinus, Julien Rouger, Ian Charest, Guillaume A. Rousselet, Hideki Kawahara and Frances Crabbe. P.B. was supported by the French Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (AJE201214) and Agence Nationale de la Recherche (PRIMAVOICE), and by grants ANR-16-CONV-0002 (ILCB), ANR-11-LABX-0036 (BLRI).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pascal Belin .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Belin, P. (2021). On Voice Averaging and Attractiveness. In: Weiss, B., Trouvain, J., Barkat-Defradas, M., Ohala, J.J. (eds) Voice Attractiveness. Prosody, Phonology and Phonetics. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6627-1_8

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6627-1_8

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-15-6626-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-15-6627-1

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics