Efficacy in deceptive vocal exaggeration of human body size

Pisanski, Katarzyna and Reby, David (2021) Efficacy in deceptive vocal exaggeration of human body size. Nature Communications, 12 (a968). ISSN 2041-1723

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How can deceptive communication signals exist in an evolutionarily stable signalling system? To resolve this age-old honest signalling paradox, researchers must first establish whether deception benefits deceivers. However, while vocal exaggeration is widespread in the animal kingdom and assumably adaptive, its effectiveness in biasing listeners has not been established. Here, we show that human listeners can detect deceptive vocal signals produced by vocalisers who volitionally shift their voice frequencies to exaggerate or attenuate their perceived size. Listeners can also judge the relative heights of cheaters, whose deceptive signals retain reliable acoustic cues to interindividual height. Importantly, although vocal deception biases listeners’ absolute height judgments, listeners recalibrate their height assessments for vocalisers they correctly and concurrently identify as deceptive, particularly men judging men. Thus, while size exaggeration can fool listeners, benefiting the deceiver, its detection can reduce bias and mitigate costs for listeners, underscoring an unremitting arms-race between signallers and receivers in animal communication.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Acoustics, Adolescent, Adult, Animal Communication, Animals, Auditory Perception, Biological Evolution, Body Size, Cues, Deception, Female, Humans, Judgment, Male, Middle Aged, Voice, Young Adult
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2021 16:36
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 16:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/100946

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