Study Says People’s Voices Change When Talking to Lovers Versus Friends

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Our voice says a lot about who we are, but does the human voice involuntarily adjust when in the presence of a lover as opposed to a friend?

A new study published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior found the sound of a person’s voice could identify their relationship to the person they’re talking to.

Study author Susan Hughes, an associate professor of psychology at Albright College, said while this revelation could get a lot of adulterers in hot water, its real value is in understanding how our bodies adapt around lovers.

“It’s not just that we change the sound of our voice, but that others can easily perceive those changes,” she said.

For the research, Hughes enlisted 24 people who had recently fallen in love. Each participant was recorded while making phone calls to both their romantic partner and a close same-sex friend.

“Men and women typically adjusted

their pitch to match their lover’s voice.”

In each test, the caller specifically asked, “How are you?” and “What are you doing?”

Those recordings were then played for independent listeners with no known connection to either caller. These 80 evaluators were asked to judge the calls based on pleasantness, sexiness and degree of romantic interest.

The results show the vocal samples where a caller is speaking with an actual lover were rated to be sexier, more pleasant and demonstrated greater romantic interest than calls made to same-sex friends.

Furthermore, the findings proved true for both women and men, with partners typically adjusting their pitch to match their lover’s voice. Women will unconsciously revert to a lower pitch while men adapt to a higher pitch.

Aside from pitch and tone, Hughes said the emotional element of scripted conversations might also help reveal the true relationship.

“There was vulnerability associated with the voices of those newly in love,” she said. “Perhaps people don’t want to be rejected.”


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