Why are some voices more relaxing than others?

02 March 2008

Question

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 Helen’s voices do this.

Answer

We put this question to Professor David Howard:

Well, when we listen to sounds like speech we've of course learnt about speech and we've had experiences in our lives that link to sound. We've learnt the patterns of certain speech and it's associated with certain things. If you've heard speech from other people from your past, perhaps your mum or your dad or a loved one you're 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 it's another stored pattern, it's a memory.

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