To Chaliapin bass, of course, still far away, nevertheless some recent studies showed that in several countries women’s voices sound lower. What’s going on?
If you listen to recordings of broadcasts 1940-1950 years, you will immediately notice how much differently then the people said.
The most notable difference is the pronunciation, intonation. Language is not something fixed, it evolves, trying to meet the demands of his time.
For example, in Britain today very few speak the so-called normative pronunciation is “received pronunciation”. Even Queen Elizabeth II has lost some glass notes in the vowels, peculiar to her voice in his youth.
It is believed to be the result of changes that have occurred in British society, its hierarchy, its class structure — linguistically all mixed up, and it even reached the level of Her Majesty.
But the differences not only in pronunciation. Changes in society affected how voices: contemporary women, they are much lower than their mothers and grandmothers — as the researchers believe, because of the changing dynamics of influence of men and women.
Cecilia Pemberton from the University of South Australia examined the voices of two groups of Australian women aged 18 to 25 years. She and her colleagues compared the records speaking women, made in 1945, with later records in the early 1990s.
The researchers found that over the five decades, the fundamental frequency decreased by 23 Hz from the average of 229 Hz (about sharp small octave) up to 206 Hz (approximately g sharp). This difference is easy to hear.
The researchers carefully selected samples of the recorded speech, taking into account the different demographic factors: for example, all women were University students and none of them smoked.
In addition, note was taken that the women of the ‘ 90s could take birth control pills, which leads to hormonal changes and is able to change the voice. These women were excluded from the analysis, however, and then the results remained the same.
According to scientists, changes in the height of the female voice reveal a more prominent role in society, which is now played by women. Talk to a deeper voice, they tend to emphasize your credibility and leadership at work.
It is known that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher specifically dealt with the teacher’s voice, to learn how to sound more authoritative. She managed to modulate his voice as much as 60 Hz that is just amazing.
And while most of our contemporaries are unlikely to go the whole hog just to sound different, recent studies show that we all spontaneously change the pitch of a voice when they want to emphasize their status.
In one experiment, joy Chen from the University of Illinois asked the participants broken into groups of 4-8 people, perform an unusual task, where among other things it was necessary to build important items necessary for the astronaut to the victim of the accident on the moon.
And at the end of the experiment, it was asked of each participant (in conversation one-on-one) to build influence and leadership of the members of their group.
These conversations she recorded, and on record it is clear that most changed the pitch of your voice in the first minutes of the conversation, and these changes can be predicted their rankings within the group.
It looked fair for both men and women: those who had lowered his voice, eventually enjoyed great respect within their group and perceived as leaders.
Those who increased the frequency of his voice, was perceived as more obedient, their status was lower.
“Already in the first minute of the conversation you could predict what is happening within the group, in terms of hierarchy,” says Chen.
As emphasized by joy Chen, in the wild this is a common tactic. Many primates — rhesus monkeys to chimpanzees — tend to sound lower in quarrels. “It’s like a signal to others: they are willing to fight to defend their territory and resources and approve your status.”
Approximately the same can be said about people trying to speak in a low voice. “They were looked upon as leaders, team imposing their will, they enjoyed great influence and made decisions on behalf of the group”.
The results of the study Chen support the hypothesis of Pemberton that the change in the sound of the voices of Australian women connected with achievements in the struggle for gender equality — and this trend is also observed in Sweden, USA and Canada.
Apparently, women are, consciously or unconsciously, adapt their voice to the new opportunities which are now opening before them.
In this sense, it is interesting to compare the situation in countries with different cultures. For example, women in the Netherlands tend to speak lower voice than the Japanese. And it may be associated with prevailing gender stereotypes in Japanese society (gender inequality in Japan is also reflected in the gap between men and women in pay).
However, as stressed by Chen, such a change, though, and look positively, do not always benefit women themselves — even in countries where the lower voice is perceived as something ordinary.
“Although a lower voice — as well as other signs of assertive behaviour — as a result, signals of power and authority possessed by the woman (and man), an undesired side effect may be that such a woman will arouse less sympathy,” she says.
Chen cites research showing that owners of lower votes find less sexually attractive and less inclined to negotiate.
In this sense this is another example of the double standards faced by women in the workplace: the very same qualities for which to praise and respect men, women are often seen as something negative.
Suffice it to recall, as written in the media about Hillary Clinton: she talks a shrill voice, it is too cold and unemotional…
Yes, perhaps a lower voice is the audible sign of progress, but we still have a long way to go before society finally get rid of all gender bias.