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Dec 04, 2013 03:28 AM EST

Height Can Be Determined Just By Listening To Voices, Study


A new study by researchers at Washington University, UCLA, and Indiana University claims that one can easily identify a person's height just by listening to their voice.

Researchers found that taller people have lower tones than their shorter counterparts. This is because the sound produced in the lower airways of the lungs, known as a subglottal resonance, deepens with height.

"The best way to think about subglottal resonances is to imagine blowing into a glass bottle partially full with liquid: the less liquid in the bottle, the lower the sound," John Morton, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis said in apress release.

"In humans, the resonances are part of a larger group of sounds, which are sort of like an orchestra playing over the sound being made from the glass bottle. [The glass bottle] sound is still there, but it isn't easy to hear."

Just by listening to their voice, one can also identify a person's age and gender.

For the new study, the researchers first asked participants to listen to tapes to determine their heights. The tapes contained sentences that were read out by pairs of people (same sex) of different heights. In the second experiment, the participants were asked to rank five people (who again belonged to the same sex) from tallest to shortest, after listening to them speak.

Despite not being presented with any visual clues, the participants were able to identify a taller speaker almost two-thirds (62.17) of the time.

"Both males and females were equally able to discriminate and rank the heights of talkers of both genders," Morton said.

Morton will present the study at the 166th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, to be held Dec. 2-6 in San Francisco, Calif.

Previous studies showed that women generally prefer deep-voiced men as they are believed to be older, healthier and more masculine than their higher-pitched rivals. This explains why these men have more children.

 ".....we find that men with low voice pitch have higher reproductive success and more children born to them," David Feinberg, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, said in astatement.

On the other hand, men prefer high-pitched voices in women as it indicates them to be more subordinate, feminine, healthier and younger.

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