Most of us have shuddered on hearing the sound of our own voice. In fact, not liking the sound of your own voice is so common that there’s a term for it: voice confrontation.
But why is voice confrontation so frequent, while barely a thought is given to the voices of others?A common explanation often found in popular media is that because we normally hear our own voice while talking, we receive both sound transferred to our ears externally by air conduction and sound transferred internally through our bones.
This bone conduction of sound delivers rich low frequencies that are not included in air-conducted vocal sound. So when you hear your recorded voice without these frequencies, it sounds higher – and different.
Basically, the reasoning is that because our recorded voice does not sound how we expect it to, we don’t like it.
Dr Silke Paulmann, a psychologist at the University of Essex, says, “the fact that we sound more high-pitched than what we think we should leads us to cringe as it doesn’t meet our internal expectations.”Yet some studies have shown that this might only be a partial explanation.For example, a 2013 study asked participants to rate the attractiveness of different recorded voice samples.
When their own voice was secretly mixed in with these samples, participants gave significantly higher ratings to their voice when they did not recognise it as their own.