Can the Sound of Your Voice Determine Your Mood?

Two women talking at a coffee shopWhen people’s voices are digitally altered to sound happier, sadder, or more fearful, their emotional states change to reflect the emotion in their voices, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous research has shown listeners may be more likely to remember the emotion behind someone’s words than the words themselves, but this is the first evidence that direct modification can change someone’s emotional experience through what they hear in their own voice.

Modifying Voices to Manipulate Emotions

Researchers from universities and sound labs in France, Sweden, and Japan developed a platform that uses digital audio processing algorithms to mimic the acoustics of natural emotional vocalizations. They used this platform to modify the pitch, inflection, and spectral content in people’s voices as they spoke. For example, for a voice to sound happier, they modified the pitch and inflection to make it sound more positive, altered its dynamic range to make it sound more confident, and changed its spectral content to make it sound more excited.

During the experiment, participants remained unaware of the manipulation, suggesting they were not constantly monitoring the emotion in their voices. Participants perceived the modifications as natural displays of emotion, and their emotional states changed in accordance with the emotion their voices were implying.

The researchers say these results suggest people listen to the sound of their own voice to figure out how they are feeling, and because this was the first time these modifications had been done on running speech rather than recorded segments, these findings could make way for new areas of experimentation.

Voice Modification Could Be Useful in Therapy

Outside of academic research, the authors say these tools could be used for therapeutic purposes, such as a new way to treat mood conditions. For example, voice modification could induce positive attitude changes by having a person in therapy recount affected memories or redescribe emotional events in a modified voice tone.

The study’s authors are going to make their platform available online, so anyone can download and use the tools for their own experiments.

References:

  1. Lund University. (2016, January 11). The way you sound affects your mood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160111162659.htm
  2. Springer Science+Business Media. (2012, December 11). Emotion in voices helps capture listener’s attention, but in the long run the words are not remembered as accurately. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211112742.htm

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 4 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • Judy

    Judy

    January 13th, 2016 at 11:03 AM

    Kinda weird, I wouldn’t think that it was so much in tune with the sound of my own voice but with the tone of voice that others have

  • Benn

    Benn

    January 14th, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    This could also be useful tactic when dealing with your kids.
    You know, make the voice more pleasant so that they may actually want to do what you are asking them to do?
    Instead of yelling at them all the time and then they just tune all of that out.

  • sam

    sam

    January 16th, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    I would love to hear more about how this would work in a therapeutic setting, especially if we started seeing real success with that process and approach.

  • Yessina

    Yessina

    January 19th, 2016 at 2:19 PM

    After reading this I am going to try to be much more conscientious of the sound of my own voice, and sort of do a little self evaluation to see if when I think that I am sounding a little shrill or snide if I just change my tone with that actually help me to change how I am feeling about certain situations. I know that I will have to write it all down and it might take some work but I hope to come up with some patterns that I can discern very soon.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.