Literally. Science suggests people might be able to tell what you look like—even when they’re only hearing you speak.
Do you think you’re free from judgment when you’re on the phone? That the other stranger on a conference call can’t tell anything about you beyond the sound of your voice? Well, turns out, someone might actually be able to decipher a lot more about you and your personality than previously thought. According to new research from Nottingham Trent University, people could be able to decode clues about your health, height, and age—all from your voice.
For the study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, researchers showed 47 participants pictures of faces and recordings of voices for 18 people separately. The participants were not told that the faces and voices belonged to the same set of people.
Each voice and face was then judged by each individual on what degree they were deemed to be either feminine or masculine; unhealthy or healthy; short or tall; overweight or underweight; as well as age.
Participants gave the same rating of masculinity or femininity to both a voice and the face almost every time, even though they didn’t know that the recording and picture belonged to the same person. For example, those who rated a face as more masculine looking also rated their voice more masculine sounding, too. Though not as often as with gender performance, participants were also able to decipher height and health, as well as age within four years from their voices. They matched the right voice to the right face 60 percent of the time.
Though this sounds like a weird coincidence, researchers think there’s an evolutionary explanation behind it. “The rating results suggest that faces and voices are 'back-up signals' for characteristics of fitness and quality, which might influence mate choice” Harriet Smith, lead researcher, said in a statement. “Both signal the same information, making it easier for other people to make quick judgments.”