The Great Voice & Looks Mismatch

Voice and looks don't match

Have you ever met a voice that didn’t fit? You didn’t know what the man or woman looked like since you only spoke on the phone, but you sure liked what you heard. And your mental image of who they were, or hoped that they were, was greatly imagined by that lovely, resonant voice of theirs. And you expected, assumed or hoped there’d be a match in terms of appearance.

And there wasn’t. Not by a long shot. That Lauren Bacall voice belonged to a gal whose appearance was anything but. And that clear, assured male voice that made you want to do a little jig in your living room belonged to a scraggly prepubescent in his 30’s with a grubby baseball hat on backwards for extra measure.

So, what happens when there is a gap in one’s physical and vocal attractiveness? A study in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, which is truly a hot read, finds that when a person has an attractive voice and a not-so attractive physical appearance, this discrepancy creates disappointment in the person beholding the physically unattractive person with the hot voice.

Not just your basic disappointment, either. Pairing an attractive channel (voice) next to an unattractive one (appearance) moved the impression of the person in a more negative direction than if the person simply had a voice and appearance that were equally matched in terms of attractiveness.

Sidebar: A good friend “fell in love on the phone” with a guy. Never saw a picture of him. When she went to meet him for the first time, all jittery and happy with the prospect of standing face to face with her phone-line dreamboat, she said that she almost uttered, “Oh, no” out loud, so much did he look like a hobo.¬†She, being a girl, had spent about two hours getting ready and looked like anything but. He was thrilled, she was not. They stayed friends.

Since I’m known to dispel information on how to make your impression its most optimum, I say do a little information-gathering on the extent that your voice matches your physical appearance. And where there are gaps, close them tight.

  • Beautiful voice? Good for you. Make sure your appearance is just as pleasing. And if you don’t think it is, then get Practical Glamour and read it from cover to cover and follow all of the instructions and it will be. (That was easy.)
  • Attractive appearance and not-so-much in the voice category? Change it. This is one of the easiest areas to change and its impact on your life will be significant. I am tempted to write a volume right here and now on the matter. I do touch on the basics in my book, but if you are interested in a major vocal redo I recommend casting around for information from a speech therapist, vocal coach or the like.

Source: Zuckerman, Mirion and Sinicropi, Veronica (2011). When Physical and Vocal Attractiveness Differ: Effects on Favorability of Interpersonal Impressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 35(2): 75-86.

One Response to “The Great Voice & Looks Mismatch”

  1. It is sad but true but I have to say that when I was employed by other cnmiaopes most of them were looks based. Working at Abercrombie alone, I was a great visual manager of their 5th Ave store but at the same time, you had to have that look and you had to show your model resume as well. Even working corporate, I found the same to be true as being an assistant to a Sr VP, you wanted someone that was efficient but it also helped when you took your accounts out that you could deflect awkward issues with a smile and random stories and that was with a fab European sports brand. The fact is when you work, whether it is as a consultant, employer or just getting in the door people work with others that they like or feel that there is a bond. So for many it’s looks based or could be personality. At the end of the day, I do feel that eventually it’s a put up or shut up situation. Those other things only get you so far and when you can’t perform, that eventually will create your exit!

    November 11, 2015 @ 7:59 am

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