Which of these guys would you guess is stronger? Him? [Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “One of us is in deep trouble.”]. Or him? [Pee Wee Herman saying, “I’m having a party, and you’re invited!”] If you chose Arnold over Pee Wee, it’s not just because you’re an astute student of popular culture. A new study shows that people are able to accurately judge a man’s strength from his voice. The work appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. [Aaron Sell et al., http://bit.ly/9qnXXa]
The meek may inherit the Earth. But the powerful tend to prevail in physical conflicts. So it’s not surprising that humans have evolved the ability to accurately size up their potential opponents. Such assessments usually spring from visual inspection. But what if it’s dark out, or your rivals are at a distance or on the phone? Will auditory information suffice?
Scientists asked undergraduates to listen to recordings of men from a variety of cultures: from Romanian college students to Argentinian llama herders. And they found that subjects could accurately predict upper body strength based on voice alone. Even when that voice was from an unfamiliar culture.
So if you’re gonna pick a fight sight unseen, listen first. Just to make sure the other guy doesn’t sound like this. [John Wayne saying, “You better wipe that smile off your face or I’ll do it for you.”]
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]