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Manner of speaking: No one likes vocal fry

Posted May 30, 2014

Is your manner of speaking important during a job interview? Researchers at Duke and Miami universities investigated, how vocal fry is evaluated by other people. “Vocal fry is speech that is low pitched and creaky sounding, and is increasingly common among young American females,” they said. Their study suggests that such intonation diminishes the chances of getting a job, especially if you are a female.

Picture: Job Interview. Year: 2010. Credit: /Flickr

Picture: Job Interview. Year: 2010. Credit: bpsusf/Flickr

The scholars disagree, what role vocal fry plays during a job interview. Some think that such speaking manner indicates that a speaker has abilities, which are desirable in a job market. Persons, whose voices are lower pitched, are more often appointed to leading positions and are conceived as more dominant. Others claim that it is negatively evaluated by employers.

Henceforth, only one scientific study investigating reaction to vocal fry was made. Although its results had revealed that evaluations are mostly positive, Anderson and his colleagues remained cautious. First of all, the participants of the study were not representative of the whole population. In addition, the previous study was not intended to disclose chances on the job interview. In order to tackle these questions a new study has been conducted.

800 respondents from age 18 to 65 were asked to evaluate people, who told the same phrase using normal intonation and using vocal fry. “Listeners were assigned randomly to listen and judge either the seven male voice pairs (N = 200 male and 200 female listeners) or the seven female voice pairs (N = 200 male and 200 female listeners),” the scientists explained.

Interestingly, the results differed significantly from those of the previous study. No positive effect was discovered. Vocal fry was negatively evaluated by the respondents of both genders. In addition, no important age differences were found. It should be noted that the females speaking in this manner received more negative reactions than the males. “Young adult female voices exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and less hirable,” the researchers reported.

How these results can be explained? It is known that people deem average voice qualities as more attractive. Consequently, deviations from the average are perceived as less appealing. The present research suggests that these regularities can be extended to the economic contexts. “Collectively, these results suggest young American women should avoid vocal fry in order to maximize labor market perceptions,” the scholars concluded.

Article: Anderson R.C., Klofstad C.A., Mayew W.J., Venkatachalam M., 2014, Vocal Fry May Undermine the Success of Young Women in the Labor Market., Plos One 9(5): e97506. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097506, source link.

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