The human voice carries socially relevant information such as how authoritative, dominant, and attractive the speaker sounds. However, some speakers may be able to manipulate listeners by modulating the shape and size of their vocal tract to exaggerate certain characteristics of their voice. We analysed the veridical size of speakers’ vocal tracts using real-time magnetic resonance imaging as they volitionally modulated their voice to sound larger or smaller, corresponding changes to the size implied by the acoustics of their voice, and their influence over the perceptions of listeners. Individual differences in this ability were marked, spanning from nearly incapable to nearly perfect vocal modulation, and was consistent across modalities of measurement. Further research is needed to determine whether speakers who are effective at vocal size exaggeration are better able to manipulate their social environment, and whether this variation is an inherited quality of the individual, or the result of life experiences such as vocal training.
- human voice