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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00859

Roar of a champion: Loudness and voice pitch predict perceived fighting ability in MMA fighters

 Jan Havlíček1, 2*,  Vít Třebický1, 2,  Jitka Fialová1, 2 and Pavel Šebesta1
  • 1Charles University, Czechia
  • 2National Institute of Mental Health (Czechia), Czechia

Historically, antagonistic interactions have been a crucial determinant of access to various fitness-affecting resources. In many vertebrate species, information about relative fighting ability is conveyed, among other thing, by vocalization. Previous research found that men’s upper-body strength can be assessed from voice. In the present study, we tested formidability perception of intimidating vocalization (roars) and a short utterance produced by amateur male MMA fighters attending the amateur European Championships in relation to their physical fitness indicators and fighting success. We also tested acoustic predictors of the perceived formidability. We found that neither body height, weight, or muscle mass predict perceived formidability neither from speech not roars. Similarly, there was no significant association between formidability of the roars and utterances and actual fighting success. Perceived formidability was predicted mainly by roars’ and utterances’ intensity and roars’ harmonics-to-noise ratio and duration. Interestingly, fundamental frequency (F0) predicted formidability ratings in both roars and utterances but in an opposite manner, so that low F0 utterances but high F0 roars were rated as more formidable. Our results suggest that formidability perception is primarily driven by intensity and duration of the vocalizations.

Keywords: Speech, vocalization, Roar, Handgrip, competition, Perception, human

Received: 12 Oct 2018; Accepted: 01 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Alex L. Jones, Swansea University, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Benedict C. Jones, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Phil McAleer, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2019 Havlíček, Třebický, Fialová and Šebesta. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jan Havlíček, Charles University, Prague, Czechia, jhavlicek@natur.cuni.cz