You can seem more dominant and trustworthy if you say ‘hello’ in the right pitch

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  • Using a particular pitch could make you appear more trustworthy and dominant, according to new research.
  • Results showed that variations in pitch can impact social interactions between people.
  • A falling pitch was the most effective way to appear dominant, while rising at the end of a sentence makes you appear more trustworthy.

Voices can tell us a lot about a person. How we use our voice, or limit it, can reveal much about our personality, as well as information about our strengths and weaknesses. According to some research, it can also help you work out if someone is likely to be a cheater.

A new study from researchers at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris has shown that the pitch in which people say “hello” could potentially reveal a lot about them, too.

The new research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at the social code of speech. The team did this by analysing the way a high and low pitch could affect the way someone instinctively reacts to another person – specifically if they appear more dominant or trustworthy.

To analyse accurately, the team developed a computer program called CLEESE that generated thousands of ways of saying “bonjour” in different pitches. Then, 44 participants were separated into two groups to listen to a hundred versions of the word, spoken by either a man or a woman.

They were asked to determine which versions of “bonjour” sounded more dominant or more trustworthy.

Results showed that a falling pitch was the most effective way to appear dominant, while rising at the end of a sentence makes you appear more trustworthy. Also, the findings were similar for male and female voices, leading the researchers to conclude listeners have the ability to pick up on social traits regardless of someone’s physical characteristics, such as their sex.

In the future, the method could be used to explore social disorders like autism and schizophrenia, the researchers said, as well as looking into the patterns and rhythms of language in different cultures.