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Why Computer Voices Are Mostly Female

Whether you’re talking to an automated tech support line, watching Star Trek, or playing with Apple’s new Siri voice assistant, the voice of the computer is female. Science can explain why.

Over at CNN, and in reflection on the release of Siri, they pose the question: Why are computer voices mostly female?

One answer may lie in biology. Scientific studies have shown that people generally find women’s voices more pleasing than men’s.

“It’s much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes,” said Stanford University Professor Clifford Nass, author of “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships.” “It’s a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices.”

How well developed? The preference starts as early as the womb and is nearly universal. One of the few and more interesting exceptions from the article is that of the BMW GPS system installed in German cars. Since the late 1990s, in response to male German drivers not wanting to take directions from a woman (no matter how silicon-based), German BMW navigation systems have sported a male voice.

Hit up the link below for the full article including some rather interesting information about voice casting.

Why Computer Voices Are Mostly Female [CNN]

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/24/11

Comments (19)

  1. grigore

    no matter how silicon-based -> GENIOUS =)))

  2. Hatryst

    Forgot Microsot Bob? :D

  3. 4G Reaper

    Microsoft Sam is so much cooler.

  4. J000

    So why when you speak French to Siri it turns into a male? :)

  5. Jeremy

    Typically in past SciFi movies (not always, but commonly) computers with male voices end up turning on people.
    That’s an interesting note about male German drivers not wanting to take directions from a female.

  6. Hatryst

    Don’t forget, the first public speaking computer had a male voice (the macintosh)

  7. UltimatePSV

    But what about JARVIS? Best AI ever.

  8. Star Woofer

    U.S. fighter jets use a female computer voice to warn the pilot of impending crash. PULL UP! PULL UP!

    I think HAL9000 cured us of male computer voices. :)

  9. Xps

    Majel Barrett often voiced the computer in the Star Trek franchise, but that’s because she dated and later married Gene Roddenberry.

  10. Ivydapple

    Microsoft Sam pwns all. :D

  11. some dude.

    Planet Express’ Ship voice was so appealing that it made Bender hook up with it.

  12. mike sam = best

    Microsoft Sam is the best. If you want to know his greatness just google “microsoft sam rap still ridin” and you’ll know why he’s the best. Microsoft Sam does not just talk all day…he also sings rap songs and he’s a hardcore guy!

    Microsoft Sam for the win!!!

  13. Dan

    Male voices were in the beging, true. But now their are more female President threw out the world than ever. We all know woman are pratically running the show now, deal with it or vote. Myself, I like to here a woman voice over a man voice anyday. That dose’nt mean I’am giving up. We have to give them something. Besides if you guy are Hetero sexual am sure you all like hearing a female voice over a male voice as well!!!!!!!!

  14. Jeremiah

    Except for in Crysis, I prefer the male nano suit voice (sounds cooler) :)

  15. Grimache

    I recall reading something in the Times or something about the NYC subway system, there are two different messages played on the cars, one male & one female. The male voice is used when instructions are given (like don’t lean on the doors), & the female voice is used for announcements/information (this is Wall St., connection available, etc.). It said something along the lines that people prefer to get instructions/rules from men & information from women.

  16. Leonick

    Ok, so do people in the UK find male voice more likeable?
    If you have an iOS with the old non siri voice control and set voice recognition to UK you’ll find the device is now using a male voice, while US, Au, Swe and a few other I’ve tried all use female :p

  17. Hariks

    Bond: The car speaks cool !

    Q: James, we thought you would pay more attention to a female voice…

  18. Unknonwnnimus

    I use sleeping apps! On my iPhone, some use to hypnotize by talking calm, personaly i never heared a woman talking to hypnotize in these apps and the warm, friendly male voice make a sense of trust and protective also he add some words like promising that if u wake up at middnight u can fall to sleep easily or u will wake in time at morning while you have smile on your face because of beautifull dreams you had during sleep… And the male voice make it easier to trust and fall to a comfort situation, but if u imagin ur self lost and tired at night in a strange place of another country, then its much easier to trust a female voice is telling u wich way to go!!!! I think women can control their emotion to bring more positive pulse for who is talking to her better than men

  19. cocobiskits

    Our satnav system in Canada was a man speaking as long as you were on the correct route. When you went wrong a womans voice took over!

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