Why Do We Hate the Sound of Our Own Voice?
The unfamiliarity is quite literally all in your head, although you’re not imagining things. When you hear yourself speak, you’re essentially hearing a distorted version of your own voice; on the other hand, when you hear a recording of your voice — I’m very sorry to say this — you’re hearing yourself the way everyone else hears you. The distinction here is caused by the physiology of your own skull. You hear yourself in surround sound, in a way, in that the sound waves from your own speech reach your ears through two separate pathways.
There’s more scientific explanation about how you receive sound from the outside world versus inside your own skull, but here’s the surprising part: While you may think you hate the sound of your own voice, it’s unlikely that you actually do.
In a fascinating study from 2013, researchers at Albright College and Penn State Harrisburg played their study participants a variety of different voices and asked them to rate how attractive they thought the unseen speaker would likely be. The twist, however, was that the experimenters did not tell the volunteers that they would also be rating recordings of their own voices. Their results showed that people tended to unknowingly prefer their own recorded voices; they rated their own voices as being more attractive as compared to the other voices they heard, and their ratings for the attractiveness of their own voices were on average higher than the ratings that other people gave them.
The participants didn’t even recognize their own voices, but still rated them higher. So if we actually like our voices, why can it be uncomfortable to hear them? It’s likely an issue of self-consciousness.
Coming to terms with the sound of your own dumb voice can also mean coming to terms with the uncomfortable truth that the “you” who exists in your own head is often very different from the “you” that the world sees and hears.
This study reminds me of Moses’ words in Exodus 4:10, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Long before recording devices, Moses lacked confidence in his voice. And yet he convinced Pharaoh to let God’s people go from Egypt (with a little help with some plagues). I don’t have to love my voice, but I can respect it. With it, I’ve made dozens of friends, had hundreds of heart-to-heart conversations, spoken in front of large groups and even prayed with someone who accepted Christ as their Savior. I may think my voice sounds goofy, but to someone else, it may be a sweet sound delivering words of life.
About the Author
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, who is a family pastor, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.