Younger people prefer assistance from female voices, neuroscience research has revealed.

A major study of consumers’ subconscious reactions to digitised voices has revealed there is a substantial bias towards female voices among people under the age of 35.

The research, which used brain imaging technology to explore the neurological response to male and female voice assistants, discovered respondents of both genders within a younger age group found a female voice both more approachable and more compelling than its male equivalent. 

In contrast, while those over 35 also found the female voice more approachable, they found the male voice to be more compelling. 

Analysing the subconscious brain responses of 105 subjects aged between 18 and 65, the study discovered that subjects of all ages and genders found female voices more approachable, with the “approach” response 32 per cent higher for female voices. 

But the response to female voices among younger respondents was even more pronounced – with the female voice proving twice as approachable as the male voice.   

Younger respondents also found the female voice more compelling in contrast to older respondents who found the male voice more compelling.

The report defines the term “approachable” as a brain response called “approach/withdrawal”, which reflects whether the person is drawn towards or away from a stimulus.

“Compelling” refers to brain responses linked to the way information is processed in the brain – namely engagement (personal relevance), long-term memory encoding and emotional intensity.

Audio communication is becoming all-pervasive in our daily lives and voice assistants such as Alexa, podcasts, audiobooks, music streaming and even voice notes are rapidly becoming more popular. 

The research was carried out by neuroscience research firm Neuro-Insight in partnership with WPP media agency Mindshare.

Heather Andrew, of Neuro-Insight, said: “Although in the past male voices may have had more authority, as evidenced by older people’s reactions, it’s apparent that this is no longer the case for the younger generation.  

“Brands that understand the true impact of different voices among different demographic groups have a powerful potential source of competitive advantage.”

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