Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How People React to Male vs. Female Voiceovers

-- By: Mark Dolliver

The results of an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll, conducted last month, give reason to believe gender stereotypes are alive and well in the way many people react to male and female voiceovers in commercials.

On the question of which sort is "more forceful," 48 percent of respondents said a male voiceover is, vs. 2 percent saying a female voiceover is. (The rest said it makes no difference.) The pattern was just the opposite when people were asked to say which is "more soothing," with the female outpointing the male by 46 percent to 8 percent. There was no significant gap, though, on the question of which is "more persuasive." Eighteen percent said a male voiceover is, while 19 percent said a female voiceover is.

Elsewhere in the same survey, respondents were asked to say which sort of voiceover is "more likely to sell me a car." The male was the bigger vote-getter here, 28 percent to 7 percent. The same was true on the question of which is "more likely to sell me a computer," with 23 percent picking the male voiceover and 7 percent the female voiceover.

Are you shocked and appalled? Do you agree with the findings? Leave us your comments and thoughts here!


  1. I think stereotypes are very common in VOs and that helps us, as voice talent, relate to the script & understand it's intended demographic. All the stuff our mom's taught us about having an open mind goes out the window when analyzing voice copy! :)

  2. Well the outcome of this survey is not shocking when you think about. I mean when you go to buy a car it is usely a male that is the selleperson same thing with computers. Now on the whole forcefull vs soothing think about that. In genrale when we were young it was allways the father who was the gurff voice when you got in trouble but it was mom who was soft and gentle. So when you think about it that is what we were raised with.

  3. Mark
    Like the article, thought-provoking, thanks for bringing it to our attention. Yes, I think the outcome of the survey is fairly standard stereotypical. Interestingly I never thought that I would be asked to voice over a gold for cash TV commercial as for some reason I thought it would need a naturally hard sell voice, but the opposite was true.

    An interesting experiment might be to re-do the survey, but also factoring in the participants' default dominant communication style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic or digital) to see if there were any trends there?

    I also wrote a blog article on my website which touches on the subject of the power of audio.

  4. I completely agree with Mark Dolliver, i really like your blog. I read it with pleasure. Thanks for the posting. I am waiting for your next post.