A new study suggests that men may want to mumble like Tom Hardy in his movies if they want to be successful on a date.
In experiments, researchers in California have found that men who mumble are considered more attractive by women.
Speaking less clearly — like Hardy and other Hollywood legends like Marlon Brando — is seen as attractive by women because it’s linked to being macho, it’s claimed.
Men, on the other hand, find a clear statement appealing to the opposite sex — like Elizabeth Hurley’s refined notes — because it denotes femininity.
Women, on average, produce spoken speech that is “acoustically and phonetically clearer” than that of men, the study authors claim.
Tom Hardy in the 2018 film ‘Venom’ Mumbling like Hardy in his movies may be something for women, study suggests
WHAT IS SEXUAL DIMORPHISM?
Some animals exhibit a high degree of sexual dimorphism — meaning they show wide differences in their physical features in addition to their sex organs — in part to attract mates.
For example, in peacocks, males are normally brightly colored with large shiny tail feathers, compared to the female, which is a more subdued color.
Other examples of sexual dimorphism are the antlers that are largely only found on male deer and the prominent mane of the male lion.
Attractiveness in speech patterns appears to be a form of what is known as ‘sexual dimorphism’ – a stark difference in every characteristic between the two sexes except the genitals.
“From a sexual selection point of view, men with traits that are slightly more masculine than average are preferred,” said study author Dr. Daniel Stehr of the University of California, Irvine.
“In this context, it would make men with less clear speech more attractive.”
Hollywood heartthrob Marlon Brando was nicknamed ‘Mumbles’ by his Guys and Dolls co-star Frank Sinatra.
The Oscar-winning legend famously stuffed cotton wool in his mouth while playing Don Corleone in The Godfather to make himself less intelligible.
Other protagonists accused of on-screen mumbling include Jeff Bridges and the late Heath Ledger, as well as Tom Hardy.
One of Hardy’s most unintelligible vocal appearances was on the BBC series Taboo.
One fan tweeted at the time: “Tom Hardy in Taboo; his voice is sexy even though i don’t understand a word he’s saying without subs [subtitles].’
Pictured, Elizabeth Hurley in ‘Bad Boy’ (2002). Hurley is known for speaking the Queen’s English throughout her film career
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter ran a… 2018 article about the British actor, entitled ‘Why Tom Hardy Can Be So Hard to Understand’.
But this new study suggests that women actually like to mumble, contrary to popular belief, after identifying a “significant gender difference” in speech intelligibility.
Much received wisdom and many vocal coaches would encourage people to slow down and articulate carefully to make a better impression on their audience, said Dr. Stehr.
“However, when it comes to empirical studies on how attractiveness of the human voice is assessed, we could not find any previous work examining whether there is an actual relationship between perceived attractiveness and the overall clarity of articulation.”
Marlon Brando famously stuffed cotton wool in his mouth while playing Don Corleone in The Godfather to make himself less intelligible
For the study, the researchers included 42 individuals performing various speech tasks and used separate groups of participants to assess the vocal attractiveness of the recorded speakers.
They examined how successfully clear speech can predict attractiveness ratings, focusing on the concept of ‘vowel space area’ – a quantitative index of intelligibility – as an important acoustic feature.
As speech becomes more coherent, the area of the vowel space – represented as a peak in a graph – increases.
The researchers found that the area of the vowel space is highly predictive of vocal attractiveness ratings.
Vowel space area accounted for 73 percent of the variance in ratings, although this result was true only for female talkers.
This image illustrates the area of the vowel space of a single speaker. Each peak corresponds to different vowel nuclei, and as speech becomes clearer, the total area enclosed by these peaks increases on average
It is possible that the link between male vocal attractiveness and unintelligible speech is due to a “compelling but paradoxical” evolutionary hypothesis.
“From a sexual selection point of view, men with traits that are slightly more masculine than average are preferred, which in this context would make men with less clear speech more attractive,” said Dr Stehr.
“At the same time, narrowed vowel space and lower perceived clarity are associated with a range of speech motor disorders, suggesting that a lack of clarity may also have indicated the presence of disease in our ancestors.”
In previous studies, volunteers who were asked to transcribe recorded sentences made fewer mistakes when women were talking.
The variability in ‘acoustic parameters’ related to speech intelligibility makes it a ‘fertile’ field for research into vocal attractiveness, according to the scientists.
The findings are published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
Men with long features and big eyes, and women with slim faces and small eyes, are seen as more promiscuous, study finds
Men with long features and big eyes, and women with slim faces and small eyes, are seen as more promiscuous, a 2021 study revealed.
However, this perception only applies to men, not women, the researchers said.
In the study, experts in Australia asked heterosexual men and women about their level of “sociosexuality” – the willingness to engage in sexual activities outside of a committed relationship, known as casual sex.
The participants also had their photos taken and shown to other participants of the opposite sex so that they could judge whether they were interested in sociosexuality based on appearance alone.
Men who were open to casual sex tended to have longer faces, higher foreheads, longer noses and larger eyes, the team found.
In addition, women accurately identified these masculine facial features as indicators of the men’s interest in casual sex.
However, men mistakenly saw smaller, more graceful female faces with smaller eyes and smaller lips as an indicator of women’s openness to casual sex.
Read more: Men with long features and big eyes are seen as more promiscuous