The Time Course of Person Perception From Voices: A Behavioral Study
Listeners spontaneously form impressions of a person from their voice: Is someone old or young? Trustworthy or untrustworthy? Some studies suggest that these impressions emerge rapidly (e.g., < 400 ms for traits), but it is unclear just how rapidly different impressions can emerge and whether the time courses differ across characteristics. I presented 618 adult listeners with voice recordings ranging from 25 ms to 800 ms in duration and asked them to rate physical (age, sex, health), trait (trustworthiness, dominance, attractiveness), and social (educatedness, poshness, professionalism) characteristics. I then used interrater agreement as an index for impression formation. Impressions of physical characteristics and dominance emerged fastest, showing high agreement after only 25 ms of exposure. In contrast, agreement for trait and social characteristics was initially low to moderate and gradually increased. Such a staggered time course suggests that there could be a temporo-perceptual hierarchy for person perception in which faster impressions could influence later ones.