Conventional wisdom: What everybody knows

Image via MorgueFile

Tuesday, John Murray held a phone-in to find a listener with the lowest bass singing voice in Ireland.

As a throwaway remark, voice coach Paul Moussoulides said research showed listeners of both sexes preferred male voices on the radio.

What research?

WomenOnAir founder Margaret E Ward spent some time looking for this frequently cited research.

It turns out what “everybody knows” is based on a single 1935 study of 80 listeners.

1935. Think about that. A time when Marlene Deitrich was considered a crazy rebel for daring to wear pants.

One study, 77 years ago. That’s why there are more men on radio?

Apple has a reputation for knowing what it’s doing. So why does Siri have a female voice? Or the Enterprise computer? And the Tardis.

“It’s much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes,” says Stanford professor Clifford Nass. “It’s a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices.”

That’s just one study. And it’s about technology, not radio.

But at least its contemporary.

So next time someone tells you something “everybody knows”, ask what exactly they know.

Especially if a man is telling you.


Image via MorgueFile

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.