The psychology of an attractive voice and how you can apply it.
You want to sound sexy, seductive, sultry.
You don’t have to explain why. We get it.
Through a professional voice acting lens, it’s an important skill for specific characters or ad reads that need to communicate pleasure and luxury.
What makes a voice sexy? And how can you make your voice sexier?
Well, this article will use the power of psychology and academic studies on the topic to answer this question.
The Difference Between a Seductive Voice and an Attractive Voice.
You'll probably end up confused if you dig into the studies too much, as there's a lack of consensus on what makes a voice sexy. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is an attractive voice down to individual opinion. However, dividing sexy voices by attractive and seductive characteristics provides more clarity.
Scientists seem to be calling all types of voices attractive. It has been found numerous times that men perceive women with higher-pitched voices as more attractive while women find men with lower-pitched voices more attractive.
This is where things start to get confusing. A different study on the perception of vocal sexiness says that men and women both find mid-pitched voices to be the “most sexy.” At the same time, a different study on interviewers' voices says that being high-pitched with an extensive vocal range is the most attractive. So, what’s the truth?
You might think trying to sound attractive is perhaps a waste of time in this case, but as it currently stands, when the data delineates between what males and females find attractive, there’s a relatively clear cross-cultural consensus. It’s just that the data gets muddied when trying to determine a voice that sounds attractive to both sexes.
The most consistent cross-cultural hypothesis is that men with deeper voices are perceived as more attractive by women. However, higher-pitched women are not always perceived as more attractive by men as there seems to be more geographical variance. Femininity in the cadence of a woman's voice seems to be the most important for it to be perceived as attractive cross-culturally.
So, what’s the difference between seductive and attractive voices?
A seductive voice comes from someone attempting to seduce the listener. An intent behind it informs the content of what is said.
In contrast, an attractive voice is one that people find attractive regardless of the intent or context.
Simply put, the difference is that an attractive voice is passively magnetic, which causes people to gravitate toward it. However, a seductive voice is a directly charged magnet pointed at someone specifically to pull them in.
High or Low Pitch?
Pitch is the vocal attribute that has been used for measuring vocal attractiveness the most academically. According to a 2010 study on vocal changes in response to the physical attractiveness of conversational partners, when we meet someone that we find attractive, both sexes lower their pitch.
What about intonations when speaking?
- Varied for attractive. Men and women with higher rates of intonation are more often perceived as more attractive. This is likely due to it being a health indicator. However, if a voice uses too many intonations, it can also have the opposite effect, especially if you are a man with a rough and breathy voice.
- Monotonous for sexy. For both sexes, a more monotonous, restricted pitch range is best when trying to sound seductive. It isn’t clear why; it could be cultural or something deeper that we haven’t quite worked out yet. Regardless, it is clear from the samples on our site that men and women used a restricted pitch range when doing an enticing read.
What about non-binary voices?
This is more difficult to say; the current scientific literature on the subject does not yet differentiate between genders or sexualities, only sexes. This is to say, that the research still needs to be done!
That being said, from our non-binary voices on the site, we can determine that many of the markers for what makes a voice attractive or seductive still apply. You’ll notice in our non-binary seductive samples that their tempo, texture, and tone do not differ from those of gendered samples.
Clearly, more investigation needs to be taken by the scientific community into these matters for a clearer picture. This further study should also consider interactions between a seductive voice and same-sex recipients who find the voice attractive.
Fast or slow?
How should you adjust the tempo of your voice to sound sexier?
Fast = Attractive.
In men, it has been measured that those with a loud volume and fast speech tempo have a higher success in finding partners and, therefore, a more attractive voice. This could be for numerous reasons. Perhaps men with a faster tempo are perceived as more personable and more socially adept, or it has some biological evolutionary association.
However, it's important to note that you can also speak too fast, as rapid-paced voices are associated with nervousness and anxiety. If you combine this with too-frequent intonation, you can end up giving off a manic impression.
Slow = Seductive
There isn’t much psychological study into the effects of tempo on vocal perception.
However, after some research into the commonalities of the seductive samples on our site, we found that seductive reads commonly end sentences with a trailing emphasis. This emphasis is often breathy or gravelly. It depends on the project, but overall, seductive reads are slower, and this can also be seen in media.
There are a variety of reasons why this could be the case. Our top speculation is that by going slower, you are essentially teasing the listener with a drip feed of information; you build suspense about what you’ll say next. Therefore, the content of your speech is essential as well and must be exciting to give off a seductive effect.
Breathy & Rough or Smooth & Clear?
There is solid psychological data for women using texture to sound sexier, but not so much for men.
Men perceive breathiness to be an attractive attribute of a woman’s voice. Associated with youth, women use this to signal attractiveness which is why an increased amount of breathiness is so common in seductive reads. This is also clear from the seductive Demos on Voquent. Vocal fry is also often perceived as attractive in women, but this may be culturally western as many successful women in media have vocal fry. More cross-cultural analysis is necessary to discover if this is universally attractive.
So, what about men trying to sound sexier? Well, we have found from the sexy samples on our site and cultural phenomena such as CorpseHusband that gravelly and rough voices are perceived as, at the very least, attractive. However, buttery-smooth samples are very clearly seductive. This suggests that intent and tone, as previously mentioned, are the key attributes of a seductive voice.
What do you think?
Studies are fine and all, but nothing compares to the first-hand research that our fantastic community offer. we are talking about you!
We asked you guys on Twitter which trait is the most critical contributor to what makes a voice sound sexy.
Voice Actors! What do you think is the most important attribute of a "sexy" voice?— Voquent Voices - Any Language. Any Accent. (@Voquent) July 22, 2022
It was a close one! But it seems that texture sneaks into first place, with tone following swiftly behind.
To sound more seductive:
- Lower your voice. Women lower their voices more than men from their relative starting point when doing so.
- Restrict your vocal intonation range, and try to sound more monotonous.
- Slow down your speech.
- Add more texture to your voice while maintaining clarity.
To sound more attractive:
- Men: Lower your pitch, but do not go beyond the norm.
- Women: Keep your pitch high but natural.
- Both: Expand the range of your pitch/use intonation more frequently. Frequent intonations are associated with eloquence and confidence.
- Texture: It depends on what kind of presence you are trying to cultivate with your voice. A clear voice can be very attractive, but so too can a rougher one.
So, that's the psychology of how to sound sexy, and you can apply this to your voice-overs! Or wherever else you decide to use these skills… We won’t tell.