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Here's why everyone hates hearing the sound of their own voice

The feeling is nearly universal.

sound of voice, hearing, voice recordings

Two men who really can't stand the sound of their own voice.

Have you ever heard yourself recorded on a voice memo and asked people, “Do I really sound like that?” You’re not alone. There are many people out there who get uncomfortable when they hear the sound of their voice, and there are some excellent reasons why.

The big reason is that the voice we hear when we speak sounds different than it does to other people and on recordings.

The voice we hear when we’re speaking is a mixture of the sound transmitted through the air, known as air conduction, and the sound we hear internally, which is a combination of vibrations from airways, vocal cords and bones inside the head.

These internal vibrations make our voices sound deeper than are in reality.


“When we talk, it’s like everyone hears the sound through speakers, but we’re hearing it through a cave complex inside our own heads,” Martin Birchall, professor of laryngology at University College London, told Time. “The sound is going around our sinuses, all the empty spaces in our heads and the middle part of our ears, which changes the way we hear sounds compared to what other people hear.”

Here's why you hate the sound of your own voice

However, when you hear a recording of your voice, the sound travels through the air into your ears, where it vibrates small ear bones. These vibrations are then sent to the cochlea, which sends an auditory sound to the brain.

These two distinct processes are the reason why people always think that their voice sounds different on a recording. "The voice that you hear on a tape recorder is actually how your voice sounds," Dr. Yale Cohen, director of the Hearing Sciences Center at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, told Live Science.

There are a few reasons why many people feel uncomfortable hearing a recording of their voice. First, the fact that it sounds different than we think messes with our self-perception. “Because your voice is unique and an important component of self-identity, this mismatch can be jarring. Suddenly, you realize other people have been hearing something else all along,” [name] writes in The Conversation.

People also don’t like hearing the sound of their voice because they don’t listen to it that often.

"Imagine you didn't have a mirror for six months and you had a perception of what you looked like. Meanwhile, you start eating lots of food and you gain lots of weight. If you [suddenly looked in a mirror], you'd be shocked," Cohen said.

Lastly, when people hear themselves recorded their voice always sounds thinner and higher pitched than it does in their heads, which makes a lot of folks cringe.

The interesting twist in all of this is that people actually prefer the sound of their recorded voice when they don't know that it is them. A study from Science Daily, albeit 10 years old, found that people tend to rate their voice as more attractive than others when they don't know who's speaking.

So, being that most people like their voices but don’t know it, there’s hope. One way to get over the discomfort is by listening to recordings of yourself often. You will get over the initial shock of it sounding different and begin to feel more comfortable listening to it.

Further, by listening to yourself talk you can make modifications to your voice so it’s more pleasing to yourself and others.

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Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

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