If you don’t have a visceral and emotional reaction to hearing your voice in a recording of yourself, then we’re going to need to know where you learned this superpower and how we can also get a hold of it. It’s kind of odd that most people feel very uncomfortable hearing themselves in recordings when you think about it. We hear our voices all the time! So why do we hate our voices in recordings?
There’s a real term for it
There’s a non-zero chance at least one person reading this thought that maybe they were still the odd one out with the voice thing. All the memes about it must have just been “the algorithm” showing you things that fit your personality or interests.
But fear no longer! Because this phenomenon is most definitely a thing, and while you might have been led here by an algorithm, you’re definitely not alone in wanting to cringe when your voice pops up in a recording. The phenomenon is known as voice confrontation, and falls under the banner of self-confrontation. It also exists as a means of behavior modification. Self-confrontation hinges on the idea that any individual has inconsistent knowledge and is dissatisfied with their own values, internal monologue, and behavior. The core assumption is that we don’t necessarily look into ourselves very often, and the self-confrontation method forces you to investigate yourself. Apparently, it’s quite effective.
So it turns out we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. That also applies to our own voices. Typically our voices sound higher pitched in recordings, at least in comparison to when you hear yourself talk normally. The most common explanation for this is pretty compelling. When you talk your voice also rattles your skull around while projecting soundwaves out into the air. You hear what everyone else hears when your voice moves through the air and back to your ears. But you also hear your skull rattling around. It’s called bone conduction, and your skull is connected to your inner ear. Commercially you can see for yourself with those bone conduction headphones, but this is also the technology behind some hearing aids.
Anyway, because we hear another layer of our voices through bone conduction, it typically sounds deeper to us than it does to others. Like it or not, our voices are super important to how we self-identify. Think about how much of someone’s personality you pick up through their voice, and how many times you’ve probably clicked off a YouTube video because you couldn’t stand the speaker’s voice. So when you discover that your voice doesn’t sound like how you think it does, you’re being forced to confront the identity you’ve constructed for yourself.
For bilingual speakers, the adverse reaction to their recorded voice is actually stronger when it is of their first language.
You’re all liars, though
Bold claim for us to call you all liars for hating the sound of your own voice. Hear us out, though. In 2013 two psychologists from Albright College and Penn State had people rate the attractiveness of recorded voice samples. What they didn’t tell participants is that they also threw in the participant’s own voices into the mix. Funnily enough, a non-insignificant amount didn’t recognize their own voice–which should tell you all you need to know about voice confrontation. But here’s the other thing, when people rated their own recorded voices, they actually rated them higher than others in terms of attractiveness. That’s right. Even though the sound of your voice might make you cringe, you also think it’s more attractive than anyone else’s.
Thinking about our own voices is no fun. Try seeing if you recognize voice actors instead here.