Science Questions

Why are some voices more relaxing than others?

Sun, 2nd Mar 2008

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Question

Jill asked:

Some people have a certain kind of voice that when I listen to them make me feel so relaxed that I can go on listening to them forever. Chris and Helenís voices do this.

 

Answer

We put this question to Professor David Howard:

Well, when we listen to sounds like speech weíve of course learnt about speech and weíve had experiences in our lives that link to sound. Weíve learnt the patterns of certain speech and itís associated with certain things. If youíve heard speech from other people from your past, perhaps your mum or your dad or a loved one youíre picking up those patterns in other people. It just triggers memories.

Chris: If we find someone intensely annoying to listen to, not just the content of what they are saying but the way they sound because we all know people like that, people have certain laughs. Why do we find certain voices intensely annoying?David: My guess is again that it is some sort of conditioning back to some sort of experience in early life. Perhaps it was a teacher who told you off or whatever that made you pick up that particular pattern. So itís another stored pattern, itís a memory.

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