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Male voices and perceived sexual orientation: An experimental and theoretical approach

  • RON SMYTH (a1), GREG JACOBS (a1) and HENRY ROGERS (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 21 October 2003

This article describes the development of a data bank of 25 male voices spanning the range from very gay-sounding to very straight-sounding, according to listener ratings. These ratings allowed the researchers to examine the effects of different discourse types (scientific, dramatic, and spontaneous) and listener groups (gay males vs. a mix of males and females of unknown sexual orientation) on how listeners perceived the voices. The effects of lexical and pragmatic content were explored by a comparison of spoken and written presentations of the same spontaneous speech samples. The effect of asking participants to rate the voices using different constructs (e.g., masculine/feminine vs. gay-sounding/straight-sounding) is discussed. The ultimate goal of this research program is to examine correlations between these ratings and a range of phonetic variables in order to shed light on the specific features to which listeners attend when judging whether a man's voice sounds gay or straight.

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Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
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