Why Do Some Many People Think That Listening to Their Own Voice Is Weird and Unpleasant? There’s an Explanation

Even though it’s becoming more accessible and easier to record and listen to ourselves, it’s still bizarre.

Why is listening to our voices rare, unpleasant, and hated by many people?
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Whether you're an international music star or a renowned singer, there's still a chance that you still don’t like listening to your voice. Eric Clapton is probably the most famous example of this phenomenon. In fact, he started singing late in his career. But he’s not the only one who doesn’t like listening to himself.

“It happens to me when I hear myself in a radio interview. I hear my voice, and I think, ‘Oh, it sounds exactly like a little girl’s voice.’” the singer-songwriter Mitski said in an interview 10 years ago. Still, almost anyone can say the same thing, especially when hearing themselves in a voice message. 

Let’s be honest: Hearing our own voice is unpleasant. It’s bizarre, slightly embarrassing, and often disconcerting. Although it’s true that we're getting used to recording and listening to ourselves as it becomes more common, there’s still a feeling of strangeness. Why is that?

The answer is simple. We hear other people’s voices and sounds through the air, including our own voice. In addition to the information transmitted through the air, we must consider everything that reaches our auditory systems from the inside.

Bones, tissues, and even cerebrospinal fluid also affect sound. These parts of our body function as a medium that transmits vibrations, so from the inside, they make sound much more complex and nuanced. In a way, it’s distorted.

It's distorted? What do you mean? Sound moves differently depending on the medium. Stick your head in a swimming pool to confirm it. On the other hand, solid mediums have “an effect on the frequency of the sound waves and, therefore, on the tone.” They make sounds lower, so our recorded voice usually seems higher pitched.

In this regard, Harvard Medical School professor and researcher John J. Rosowski told The New York Times that many factors influence the voice. These factors change from person to person. In fact, they can change from one moment to the next. What's clear is that the sound is different.

And, of course, it’s not that it sounds bad. Our brain is very used to a particular idea of “I.” The same happens with our image: We’re used to seeing ourselves in a mirror, so we find it strange to see ourselves in other contexts and sometimes think we aren’t photogenic.

The advent of cameras, tape recorders, and other electronic devices has changed how we see and hear ourselves. However, as our sensations and reactions clearly demonstrate, it hasn’t solved the problem.

Image | Unsplash (Clem Onojeghuo)

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