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View Full Version : Straight or Gay? Vowels in Speech May Give it Away


Williamsser
May 24th, 2011, 11:45 PM
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2011/05/20/straight-or-gay-vowels-in-speech-may-give-it-away

FRIDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- For the average listener, the vowel sounds in an unfamiliar voice quickly give away the speaker's sexual orientation, a new study finds.

"I'm not sure what exactly the listeners are responding to in the vowel," study lead author Erik C. Tracy, a cognitive psychologist at Ohio State University, said in a news release from the American Institute of Physics. "Other researchers have done various acoustic analyses to understand why gay and heterosexual men produce vowels differently. Whatever this difference is, it seems that listeners are using it to make this sexual orientation decision."

When hearing an unfamiliar voice at the other end of the phone line, most people instantly judge the stranger's characteristics based on how they speak, and the new study suggests listeners are usually pretty accurate in their determination.

"This is a phenomenon that occurs every day," Tracy said. "We are constantly speaking with people we don't know on our phones, and just from this conversation, we might be able to identify personal characteristics about that person, such as their gender, age, race or sexual orientation."

In order to understand how this process works, Tracy and a colleague focused on one characteristic -- sexual orientation. They asked seven gay and seven heterosexual males to record single-syllable words (including "mass," "food" and "sell") and then played the recordings for listeners. The study participants were then asked to identify the sexual orientation of the speakers when hearing only the first letter sound of those words, the first two letter sounds, or the entire words.

The listeners were unable to determine the sexual orientation after hearing the sound of the first letter in the spoken word, for example, just the "m" sound in the word "mass." But, "when presented with the first two letter sounds [for example "ma"], listeners were 75 percent accurate," Tracy said. "We believe that listeners are using the acoustic information contained in vowels to make this sexual orientation decision," he explained.

The findings are scheduled to be presented May 23 in Seattle at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

young_gunner913
May 25th, 2011, 12:22 AM
Really? Funds are being spent on tests like this? Who gives a fuck?

Blu€
May 25th, 2011, 12:23 AM
Who gives a fuck?

Agreed :lol:

antonella
May 25th, 2011, 12:46 AM
I've found using the word fabulous too much, is another dead give away.

Tennisation
May 25th, 2011, 12:49 AM
This new discovery is just as compelling as Lady Gaga's album of the decade Born This Way...INCREDIBLE!

VeeJJ
May 25th, 2011, 02:16 AM
Really? Funds are being spent on tests like this? Who gives a fuck?

Uh well, ya see, uh, yeah. :wavey:

aznunit2k5
May 25th, 2011, 03:32 AM
That research is SO gay

So Disrespectful
May 25th, 2011, 04:13 AM
From a test pool of 7 openly gay males of the variety who volunteer for gay research, listeners were able to successfully identify 5 as gay. Groundbreaking.

Dominic
May 25th, 2011, 04:52 AM
Hmm strange I would think it's more the consonents that make me able to identify, especially "S"

Sp!ffy
May 25th, 2011, 05:08 AM
I think this research provides crucial evidence that sexual orientation is genetic, not behavioral. :yeah:

Albireo
May 25th, 2011, 05:57 AM
I smell something fishy, and I'm not talking about Lindsay Lohan's closet.

\linguist

Kworb
May 25th, 2011, 10:34 AM
I actually think it's fascinating that you can often tell a guy is gay just by how they talk. But this new study doesn't seem very thorough.

miffedmax
May 25th, 2011, 01:32 PM
Wow. So some people are gay, and most of us have some form of gaydar.

I seriously need to come up with a way to blow a mess of grant money.

Super Dave
May 25th, 2011, 01:45 PM
I smell something fishy, and I'm not talking about Lindsay Lohan's closet.

\linguist

You're a cunning linguist. http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20071125231632/uncyclopedia/images/1/1f/Rimshot.gif

Albireo
May 25th, 2011, 06:40 PM
Wow. So some people are gay, and most of us have some form of gaydar.

I seriously need to come up with a way to blow a mess of grant money.

Actually, I can see how this would be a very worthy line of research... if their methodology is sound, the results are repeatable, etc. etc. But it sounds to me that there are a lot of factors that need to be screened for, and just on the basis of the superficial article here, that doesn't seem to have been done thoroughly. (Much more in-depth reporting would help determine this, for a start.)

Olórin
May 25th, 2011, 08:28 PM
Actually, I can see how this would be a very worthy line of research...

For a cognitive psychologist? Not really. Unless they have a redoubtable team of linguists with whom they are working it seems a completely absurd study to me.

There are so many variances in how speak, to take into account, because of language, dialect, region, physical ability to articulate etc. Unless you thoroughly understand those factors and in turn integrate them with your analysis of the more psychological side - i.e. the effect of social upbringing, personality and sexual preference on how we speak and pronounce words - then I would say this is one of many studies that is simply another bogus waste of money that doesn't show anything conclusive and doesn't even come close to getting to the heart of the "issue".

Apoleb
May 25th, 2011, 08:40 PM
You cannot judge a study by a second hand report.

Regardless, how the hell this isn't interesting? It's quite a specific finding: gay people apparently pronounce vowels differently from straight people. There are lots of details to look up, but the more interesting follow up would be to correlate with a physiological/antomical finding in the brain. You never know what this research could ultimately reveal, like for example, HOW do people end up with a certain sexual orientation.

Dav.
May 27th, 2011, 05:52 PM
This is just playing on stereotypes...

Albireo
May 27th, 2011, 10:38 PM
For a cognitive psychologist? Not really. Unless they have a redoubtable team of linguists with whom they are working it seems a completely absurd study to me.

There are so many variances in how speak, to take into account, because of language, dialect, region, physical ability to articulate etc. Unless you thoroughly understand those factors and in turn integrate them with your analysis of the more psychological side - i.e. the effect of social upbringing, personality and sexual preference on how we speak and pronounce words - then I would say this is one of many studies that is simply another bogus waste of money that doesn't show anything conclusive and doesn't even come close to getting to the heart of the "issue".

I didn't say that they'd done it correctly, or accounted for all of the particulars. I only said that it was a worthy subject for research. And yes, it does require not only phoneticians but also sociolinguists to account for all of the possibilities. That's the wonder of cross-disciplinary research.