Universal vs. language-specific aspects in human vocal attractiveness: An investigation towards Japanese native listeners’ perceptual pattern

Anqi XU, Shue-sum LEUNG, Kwing Lok Albert LEE

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Abstract

Studies on Western societies show that male voices with acoustic parameters encoding a large body size (low F₀, narrow formant dispersion and F₀ range) were considered to be attractive, while the opposite was true for female voices (e.g. [Xu et al., 2013, PLoS ONE, 8(4), e62397]). The present work investigates whether Japanese native listeners are guided by the same principles in assessing the voices of the opposite sex. We replicated the design in Xu et al. (2013) with the added parameter of creaky voice, which is prevalent in North America nowadays and hotly debated in terms of attractiveness. Thirty-four heterosexual participants (16 female) rated the attractiveness of synthetic stimuli controlling for F₀ height, formant distribution, F₀ range and voice quality. Results indicate that their preferences for voice quality are similar with studies on Western societies (breathy, modal >creaky, pressed/tensed). Additionally, low-pitched male voice with narrow formant dispersion and high-pitched female voices were also favorable. Interestingly, a narrow F₀ range significantly lowered the attractiveness ratings, regardless of the gender of the voice, which contradicts Xu et al. (2013). These various results are discussed in light of the cross-linguistic/ cross-ethnic divergences in vocal attractiveness. Copyright © 2017 Acoustical Society of America.
Original languageEnglish
Article number060001
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2016

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linguistics
ratings
stimuli
divergence
coding
acoustics

Citation

Xu, A., Leung, S.-S., & Lee, A. (2016). Universal vs. language-specific aspects in human vocal attractiveness: An investigation towards Japanese native listeners’ perceptual pattern. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, 29(1). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1121/2.0000392