Relationships, Good Communication and Mumbling – A Strange Link

Experts have been telling us for decades that good communication is key to strong relationships. Moreover, we have also been told that effectively communicating through speech requires articulation. It requires proper pronunciation. So what if someone told you that mumbling could make men more attractive to women?

As strange as it sounds, a study published in 2021 by The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America seems to suggest just that. Despite the fact that mumbling can cause all sorts of misunderstandings, science seems to suggest that it is an attractive feature in men.

Accepting results of the study also means accepting some things about human relationships that do not tend to play well in the modern culture. As such, the study probably isn’t going to get much attention. But it is worth looking into if you are curious about such things.

Mumbling and Vowel Space

Apparently, researchers from the University of Utah and the University of California Irvine got together to study human vocalizations and whether there is any link between them and the attraction between the sexes. They specifically wanted to know about vowel spacing. Why? Because vowel spacing plays a significant role in how easy a person is to understand.

When strong vowel spacing is not practiced, a person is perceived to be mumbling. According to the researchers, a person’s voice is less acoustically distinct the smaller the vowel space is. And the less distinct the voice, the more difficult it is to understand what the owner of that voice is saying.

Mumbling Is More Manly

As for what the study discovered, it was fascinating. For starters, the researchers observed that women found men with smaller vowel spacing more attractive. They concluded that men who mumbled appeared to be more manly. It is as though women expect men to be less intelligible in their speech.

They went on to theorize that the human brain looks for characteristics that increase the chances of survival when people are selecting mates. They ascribed the phenomenon to evolution. If their theory is correct and less coherent speech is a male trait, females may interpret mumbling as being more manly. They may perceive this as being more to their advantage from an evolutionary standpoint.

On the opposite end of the scale, women who speak more succinctly and articulately are perceived as more feminine. Applying the same evolutionary standards would seem to indicate that well-spoken women are more attractive to men. Not surprisingly, other studies cited by the researchers proves that it is easier to transcribe dictation from females because they speak more clearly.

What Makes Relationships Work

It is important to understand that the study only attempts to explain how voices and speech habits may influence physical attractiveness. Whether or not a person mumbles is irrelevant to what actually makes relationships work. Mumbling and articulation aside, strong relationships require good communication skills.

Therapists at Relationships & More, a counseling clinic in Rye, NY, say that successful relationships are built on strong communication. Couples able to communicate their thoughts, feelings, difficulties, and successes are more likely to enjoy long-term, fulfilling relationships. Sometimes that involves actually talking. Yet couples can communicate in other ways, too.

When it comes to long-term relationships, strong communication is necessary. But when it comes to physical attraction, it might actually be advantageous for men to mumble. It is strange to think that a trait parents, teachers, and speech pathologists have been trying to correct for decades could actually help keep the species alive. Then again, the study could ultimately be disproved down the road.