I get a lot of DM messages on Instagram complimenting my voice. Never from a British person; it’s usually Americans following cliché by admiring my South England tone. Why are people sexually attracted to accents? What makes particular ones more appealing than others?
Glamour published an article on the sexiness of foreign languages. They explained how research suggests our perceptions of a culture or country relates to how appealing we find a voice. For example, many believe the French sound sexy, and France connotes romance, passion and beauty. The British accent to some portrays intelligence – an ideal quality in a partner. In my blog post about What Defines Smart, I learnt we judge intelligence based on voice.
We’re sexually attracted to accents that help define qualities we seek in a partner. In other words, countries with stereotypes we find appealing. I love the idea of living somewhere like the South of France or on a Greek island, which makes those accents charming. Emotions, memories and past dates can also define what we prefer. This explains why people differ in choice.
Digital site The Talko suggests a number of reasons why people are sexually attracted to accents. In addition to the appeal of a person potentially speaking another language, there’s intrigue behind them. We associate languages and accents with new culture and upbringing. If you feel stuck meeting the same types of dates, a foreign voice adds newness. Two of my exes have strong, different accents. One is Northern while the other is Zambian. I rarely fancy guys who speak similar to me.
In 2015, The Independent reported on a study showing how race alters accent expectations. Linguists from the University of British Colombia asked a group of people in Cananda to listen to Canadian speakers. The speakers have all grown up in the exact same place but vary in ethnic background. When listeners in the study knew a speaker was white, they found them easier to understand. Yet the accents were all the same.
‘Accenticism’ illustrates bias towards an individual or the community they are from, based on how they sound. So, while we’re sexually attracted to accents representing good qualities, we’re equally turned off from accents located in areas we negatively judge. We can associate accent to social class and education. Believing someone is not smart because of their speech, demonstrates prejudice whether intended or not.
An article from Forbes says research shows it takes “less than 30 seconds” to decipher “ethnic origin”, “socio-economic class” and background of a speaker. Big Seven Travel listed the supposed sexiest accents around the world in 2019. Kiwi made number one, followed by South African, Irish, Italian and Australian. The Sun meanwhile, published an article on Britain’s sexiest accent. Birmingham is last while Essex is at the top.
Sexually attracted to accents – can you adapt?
When we think about sex appeal, we typically picture physical aesthetic and classic character traits like humour and ambition. Voices hold tremendous power and especially in attraction – not a thing to ignore. While it’s difficult to locate and edit your accent, you can learn how to make your voice sexier. Seduction Science has created a guide with a number of steps to sound sexy, which includes learning to “breathe smoothly” and practicing volume and projection exercises.
If our attraction to accents is based on stereotypes and assumptions, perhaps we have control to change our feelings. Consider why you don’t like particular accents and whether that’s based on negative apprehensions. In terms of liking our own voices, maybe we need to listen to how we speak more and understand how we can improve. I for instance, think I raise my voice to high at the end of sentences. Rarely do I meet people who think they sound good.
What accents do you find sexy?