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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Voices are full of cues to socially relevant signals and, without conscious awareness, we rapidly make judgements about others based on their voice. Fascination with why or even how we do this is not a new phenomenon but stretches back to Ancient Greece and writings on how to become a great public speaker and to project oneself in a chosen manner (for example, Cicero’s De Oratore). More recently, with the influx of radio in the early twentieth century, focus on obtaining social signals from the voice grew in provenance. Reports of early American radio transmissions with President Franklin D. Roosevelt —‘the radio President’—talked about how he broadcast in a voice that revealed ‘strength, courage and abounding happiness’ (Dunlap Jr, 1933). Likewise, the efforts of King George VI to embrace the role of a broadcasting monarch, despite a speech impediment, were made famous in the popular film, ‘The King’s Speech’ (2010). This chapter will focus on one branch of social information from voices—personality. Starting with an overview of personality traits derived from the voice, and how this influences our decisions, the chapter will then discuss the consistency (both across listeners and time) and ‘accuracy’ of such judgements. The chapter will end by highlighting the importance of this work, looking at technological and medical applications, before posing future strands that must be studied to fully harness the impact of this research.

Keywords: personality, first impression, social voice space, trustworthiness, dominance, approach, avoidance, consistency, accuracy, perception

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