Masculine-Voices Lose in U.S. Supreme Court; Confidence Wins - December, 2014

A recent study led by University of Chicago linguist Alan Yu, and legal theorist Daniel Chen, of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, examined recordings of 60 male lawyers speaking the phrase, “Mister Chief Justice, may it please the court,” in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Two hundred volunteers listened to the recordings and evaluated the voices for characteristics of “masculinity, attractiveness, confidence, intelligence, trustworthiness, and educated-ness, as well as the probability of win.”  The researchers that two characteristics, masculinity and confidence, were predictors of Supreme Court decisions.  Individuals with more masculine voices tended to lose; individuals rated as having high-confidence tended to win.

Sources: Andy Coghlan, “Masculine-sounding lawyers less likely to win in court,”, December 30, 2014: article/dn26737-masculinesounding-lawyers-less-like ly-to-win-in-court.html#.VKQ6v3uYfcu;

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor