Previous: Misconceptions about Hiccups- mental_floss on YouTube (Ep. 45)
Next: Misconceptions about Mythology - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep. 46)



View count:299,567
Last sync:2024-06-18 00:30
A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Kristina Bailey asks, "Why does our voice sound different when we hear an audio or video recording of it?"


Mental Floss Video on Twitter:

Select Images and Footage provided by Shutterstock:

Want more of Craig?

Store: (enter promo code: "YoutubeFlossers" for 15% off!)
[Craig] Hi, I'm Craig.  In my own head, [deep voice] my voice sounds like this.  And this is Mental Floss on YouTube.

Today, I'm gonna answer Christina Bailey's big question - Why does our voice sound different when we hear an audio or video recording of it?

When you hear an audio recording of your voice, it probably sounds higher-pitched than the voice you hear when you talk.  Today I'm gonna explain why that is and then later when I watch this, it's gonna sound weird to me.

Let's get started!

[Mental Floss theme music playing]

So as you know from the other like five episodes we've done on sounds, sound comes into our ears in the form of waves.

It's the outer ear that captures those waves and sends them into the ear canal.  Then the waves cause the ear drum to vibrate.  The vibrations make their way through the inner ear, including the cochlea, which is the auditory portion of the inner ear.

[High-pitched singing] Good good good ear drum vibrations!

Then the vibrations become signals that the auditory nerve in the brain is able to make sense of.  But when we hear our own voices while we're talking, there's a lot more going on than just vibrations in our ears.  There's also vibrations in our vocal chords.  And our bones affect how our vibrations travel.

The technical term for this is bone-conducted sound, but I'm gonna call it jiggly bones.  And this sound makes its way to the cochlea in the ear directly from the inside of the body.

Jiggly bones.

So basically, the ear is processing vibrations from inside the body as well as outside it, and this makes our voices sound deeper to us than they actually sound in real life.

People tend to prefer the deeper voice that they've gotten used to over their whole lives due to the mere-exposure effect.  The mere-exposure effect is a common psychological phenomenon that basically means we favor things that we're more familiar with or have been exposed to over and over.

For instance, you guys love me now, but at first, you hated me.  

For other instants, a scientist named Robert Zions conducted experiments in which he would expose participants to stimuli like made-up words or yearbook photos.  He found that participants like the stimulus more and more as they continue to be shown it.  

And the fact that we prefer our voices as we've been hearing them our whole lives is another example of mere-exposure effect.  When we hear it on a recording, it's different, so we like it less.

This is actually similar to why some people don't like looking at pictures of themselves.  We grow accustomed to the image of ourselves that we see in the mirror everyday.  But as you know, that's not what we really look like.  It's a mirror image, so it's reversed.

I see video of myself all the time, and I have grown to love it.  I love looking at myself.

[Mental Floss theme music playing]

Thanks for watching Mental Floss on YouTube, which was made with the help of all these merely exposed people.  If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments.

See you next week. [Deep voice] See you next week - [Normal voice] is what is sounded like to me.