When humans need to give off a powerful vibe, we have more elaborate tools at our disposal than most animals do: symbolic thinking, emotional intelligence, and big dick energy are just a few examples of our unique abilities. With those weapons at hand, we don’t often find it necessary to let out an all-out roar. But this year, thanks to a study released in iScience we learned that a well-executed roar tells us a lot more about a person that you might think.
As Inverse reported in June, Jordan Raine, Ph.D., an associate tutor in psychology at the University of Sussex, designed a study to investigate how vocal cues — human roars, specifically — might help convey information about physical strength.
This is #19 on Inverse‘s 25 Most Surprising Human Discoveries Made in 2018..
Other animals do this all the time: For instance, the red deer lets out a deep-throated wail intended to display dominance and physical superiority during the mating season. Raine wondered if humans, like the red deer, can actually convey information about themselves in a roar. Specifically, he wondered, if you hear someone roar, can you actually tell how strong — and therefore how scary — they are?
To investigate this question, Raine recruited 60 actors and 101 additional subjects and determined how physically imposing they were by measuring their bicep circumference, grip strength, and height. With their strength measurements completed, Raine had the actors all say a simple, aggressive sentence while trying to be as intimidating as possible, before letting them go all-in and produce a deep-throated roar. The additional participants were tasked with determining whether the roarer was stronger or weaker than themselves, based solely on the quality of their wail.
Raine found that the non-actors weren’t able to determine height accurately based off of an actor’s roar, but they were surprisingly good at judging physical strength — especially if the person was stronger than themselves. The non-actors only misjudged the strength of the roarer 18 percent of the time when the actor was stronger than themselves. When the roarer was a lot stronger, the listeners only misjudged their strength 6 percent of the time. In short, when a strong person roars, most people get the message even if they can’t see them.
The recordings are pretty hilarious, but the aggro human roars actually make a rather subtle point about how humans convey information. Despite the millions of words we have to communicate, sometimes the way we say something is just as powerful as the words we use to say it.
As 2018 winds down, Inverse is highlighting 25 surprising things we learned about humans this year. These stories told us weird stuff about our bodies and brains, uncovered insights into our social lives, and generally illuminated why we’re such complicated, wonderful, and weird animals. This story was number 19. Read the original here.