The voice can indicate when someone finds us attractive
There is a lot of research that indicates how we communicate non-verbally (and involuntarily) when we are attracted to someone. For example, exposing the neck or inner arms indicates interest, while crossing the arms does not.
However, not all of these discreet signs have to do with the position we take or the gestures on our faces. According to one investigation, there is also something else that gives us away. It is the voice, something we use constantly during flirtation, whenever we dare to say something to that person that catches our attention.
The voice and its link to sexual attraction
There are many ways to explain the logic behind our tastes when it comes to finding a partner, and one of the most talked about in psychology is that which starts with Evolutionary Psychology.
This perspective focuses on how evolution has shaped the genetics that most of us share and how it influences how we behave. Reproductive behaviour, in particular, receives a lot of attention from these researchers, as the strategies we use to find a partner and procreate have direct effects on the genes.
In the case of voice, it is believed that one of the reasons why men’s voice is more severe is because the genes behind this trait have been selected more often in women’s reproductive strategies. That is, that in men the deep voice is attractive and that is why those who possess it have more possibilities of having offspring (perhaps because this kind of sounds are associated with large and, therefore, strong animals). In the case of women, the opposite is true: those with higher voices are generally more attractive.
On the other hand, there are also data that indicate a curious phenomenon: people with a more active sex life have voices that are more appealing. In this research, several volunteers of both sexes had to score the degree to which they were attracted to voices that had been recorded on sound recordings. Using this information and crossing it with the reports about the sexual life of the people who gave up their voice for the experiment, this strange pattern of behaviour was detected.
Adjusting our voice to others
We have already seen that voice is related to sexual preferences, but… how does it influence flirting once it has started? This is a pertinent question, since the voice not only serves to influence the assessment of the attractiveness of potential partners; we also use it to make others like us more, even if we do not realize it. And this can be used to detect the sexual or romantic interest that someone may express towards us.
The key is to look at the way our interlocutor adapts his or her voice to resemble our own. This phenomenon, called phonetic convergence , occurs unconsciously almost every time we talk to someone we are attracted to.
Both the pace of speech and the intonation and tone are modified to emulate that of the other person, so that they feel comfortable in the conversation by being “in their comfort zone”. On the other hand, the opposite happens when we talk to someone we don’t like: we emphasize the properties of our voice that do not resemble the other person’s.
Moreover, this tendency to change our way of speaking occurs on a small scale during the first few minutes when we talk to someone, but also continues for days and even weeks afterwards. For example, one study found that months after moving in together for the first time, several flatmates tended to talk much more like each other than they had on their first day together. In addition, the degree to which their voices matched those of others correlated with the degree to which they felt close to each other.
Part of the chameleon effect
Phonetic convergence can be understood as part of the chameleon effect, a tendency by which everything our non-verbal language adapts to that of the interlocutor , unconsciously, usually when there is a climate of emotional attraction or closeness (or a desire to reach it).
For example, some salespeople pay attention to the positions of their potential customers and imitate them, or try to make the speed at which they speak approximate that of the other person.
So, to find out if someone likes you, you can always pay attention to the way their speech evolves during the first few minutes of conversation. On the other hand, if that person interests you, you can also try to voluntarily modify your way of expressing yourself so that the rhythms and sounds that make up your voice mimic theirs.