You might be able to tell if someone is a cheater just by listening to their voice
- A recent study has shown how people could tell if someone had cheated just by listening to their voice.
- Women were better at picking up on it than men.
- Voices can tell us a lot about a person, but exactly what it is that gives the game away about infidelity is uncertain.
There are quite a few signs to look out for that your partner is cheating on you. You might be suspicious because of recent changes in their behaviour, or they might simply have a history of messing around.
Sometimes, your intuition may be better than you think. If you get the feeling someone is the "type" to be unfaithful, there might be more to it than your own insecurity or trust issues.
According to research, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology and written about in The Conversation, you may just need to listen to someone's voice to figure out whether they'll cheat on you or not.
Researchers recruited 64 male and 88 female undergraduate students, who were asked to listen to 10 male voices and 10 female voices. Five of each group reported they had cheated on a partner either in the past or in their current relationship.
All the voices in each group belonged to people of the same size and shape, who were heterosexual, white, and unmarried but in exclusive relationships. In other words, they were as similar as possible.
Participants in the study were given no background information about the people they were listening to. They had to listen to their voices alone, without knowing anything about the person, and rate whether they thought they had ever cheated or not.
By hearing the brief recordings, the participants were able to judge actual cheaters as more likely to have cheated — and women were better at it than the men.
"We were unable to identify exactly which acoustic qualities were driving the perception of cheating ascriptions," the authors of the study wrote. "It is interesting, then, to speculate what aspects of the human voice raters were using to make these accurate assessments because we eliminated differences between groups for the more conspicuous cues of a voice that could be driving factors."
One possible reason the participants could so accurately predict someone's infidelity is that they may have generalised attributes of voices of previous partners who they had known to have cheated. In other words, cheaters may all speak in a similar way, but pinpointing exactly what it is that makes them stand out is uncertain.
Previous research, such as a study from 2011 published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, found that women consider men with deeper voices more likely to be unfaithful, suggesting pitch could have something to do with it (although the researchers manipulated the pitch of men's voices to try and account for this).
Despite this, another study found that women prefer low-voiced men anyway, especially just before they start ovulating. There could be something inherently biological in this, as deeper voices have been linked to healthier children.
Whatever it is, the study new shows how vocal cues could be used as a cue for infidelity, the researchers concluded. If something about your partner's voice is making you feel uneasy, it might be worth thinking about.
"These findings expand upon the idea that the human voice may be of value as a cheater detection tool," the researchers wrote. "Very thin slices of vocal information are all that is needed to make certain assessments about others."
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