New paper: Roar of a champion: Loudness and voice pitch predict perceived fighting ability but not success in MMA fighters

Historically, antagonistic interactions have been a crucial determinant of access to various fitness-affecting resources. In many vertebrate species, information about relative fighting ability is conveyed, among other things, by vocalization. Previous research found that men’s upper-body strength can be assessed from voice. In the present study, we tested formidability perception of intimidating vocalization (roars) and a short utterance produced by amateur male MMA fighters attending the amateur European Championships in relation to their physical fitness indicators and fighting success. We also tested acoustic predictors of the perceived formidability. We found that body height, weight, and physical fitness failed to predict perceived formidability either from speech or from the roars. Similarly, there was no significant association between formidability of the roars and utterances and actual fighting success. Perceived formidability was predicted mainly by roars’ and utterances’ intensity and roars’ harmonics-to-noise ratio and duration. Interestingly, fundamental frequency (F 0) predicted formidability ratings in both roars and utterances but in an opposite manner, so that low F 0 utterances but high F 0 roars were rated as more formidable. Our results suggest that formidability perception is primarily driven by intensity and duration of the vocalizations.

Authors: Pavel Šebesta, Vít Třebický, Jitka Fialová, Jan Havlíček

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