Male and female voices in radio advertising


Rodero, E.; Larrea, O.; Vázquez, M. (2012). Male and Female Voices in Commercials. Analysis of Effectiveness, Adequacy for product, Attention and Recall. Sex Roles, 68 (5-6), 349-362. DOI 10.1007/s11199-012-0247-y.


In radio advertising, there is a strong tendency to employ male voices more often than female voices in the belief that male voices sound more convincing. As a result, a gender stereotype is established which would appear to be upheld more by tradition than actual advertising effectiveness. This experimental study analyses the influence of gender on the effectiveness of the voice in terms of adequacy to the product, the ability to attract listeners’ attention and the degree to which voice gender contributes to recall. The objective is to ascertain whether or not the patent infra-use of the female voice is justified. To this end, a gender-balanced sample of 372 students of journalism from Spain was employed. The findings show that when a question is asked about an alleged association with a pre-existing vocal stereotype the answer is consistent with the gender of the voice and the type of product, though this does not occur when the aspects are unrelated, such as voice effectiveness, attention or recall. Accordingly, the supremacy of the male voice over the female voice in radio advertising and the repeated association between voices and types of products is more based on tradition than on alleged advertising effectiveness.

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Significance of the project

The results of the experiment make it plain that there is no specific reason to continue employing more male voices than female ones in radio advertising. The perception of the voices, to the extent that gender differences are eliminated, is equal. Both male and female voices can therefore be considered equally effective, with a similar capacity to attract the listener’s attention and increase recall of the information contained in an advertisement, as this study demonstrates. The association that advertising traditionally makes between the gender of the speakers and that of the product, a result of habit, could account for the existing difference in the evaluation of the adequacy of the voice with the product advertised. It is curious that it is women who reinforce the gender differences, as if the gender portrayal continues to be internalized.

Goals of the Project

This study employs experimental methodology to analyze the influence of a radio speaker’s gender on the effectiveness of the voice, its adequacy to the product, its ability to attract listeners’ attention and the degree of listener retention. The objective is to determine whether or not the infra-utilization of the female voice is justified. The framework for the study is the Filtering Model described by Misra and Beatty (1990) within the theoretical framework of social cognition. This model states that product congruence is found to enhance the effectiveness of advertising. If this is indeed the case, the effectiveness of an advertising message should be related to the degree of fit between the announcer’s voice and the gender of the target audience.

Main Results

The overall results of this research make it possible to conclude that the predominance of the male voice in radio advertisements cannot be justified in terms of effectiveness, adequacy, capacity to attract attention or recall, despite the persistence of the gender vocal stereotype which is prevalent in radio advertising.

The main conclusion to be drawn from the findings of this study is that when an association with a pre-existing vocal stereotype exists, a congruence of gender between the voice and the product type occurs. Only in this case is a male voice more suitable for a traditionally masculine product and a female voice for a feminine one (a traditional role portrayal). In this sense, the results indicate that the male voice is more closely associated and more appropriate for the mechanical workshop product, whereas the female voice is considered more closely associated and more appropriate for the body-hair removal product. No significant differences were observed for the product that was considered neutral, the removals company, or in the comparison between the evaluations made by men and women.

Additional Information

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