LONDON, Sept 30 — Some people have more relaxing voices than others. This is the case of many celebrities like American actress Viola Davis or Irish presenter Graham Norton. So what’s behind this intriguing phenomenon?

The Premier Inn hotel chain explored this question by asking 54 people in the UK to listen to 20-minute excerpts from the audio versions of memoirs by celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Elton John and Will Smith. These audiobooks were all read by the people whose stories they tell. The study participants then rated them out of ten based on their calming potential.

First place went to Sir David Attenborough, with the audio version of his autobiography, A Life on Our Planet. The British broadcaster, biologist and natural historian is perhaps best known for his documentaries, which introduced viewers to the animal world. His series Life on Earth has reportedly been viewed by 500 million people in 100 countries around the world.

His compatriot, Stephen Fry, and the former US first lady, Michelle Obama, also feature in the list of English-speaking celebrities with the most relaxing voices. They are joined by American actor Stanley Tucci, whose voice is like “a healing balm” according to Us Weekly magazine. As such, it’s not surprising that he lands in fourth place in the ranking.

Apart from Michelle Obama, only four other women feature in the top 15. They are TV presenter Holly Willoughby, actresses Julie Walters and Olivia Newton-John, and singer Lily Allen. This preference for male, and therefore lower, voices is not all that surprising. Researchers have found that deep tones are often associated with hunting prowess, strength and even career success. As a result, job applicants with deep voices are more likely to be hired than others, regardless of gender.

This phenomenon perhaps explains why American hairdresser Jonathan Van Ness, whose voice is not as deep as those of Sir David Attenborough or Stephen Fry, is ranked 20th and last in the list. Interestingly, women with higher voices like Holly Willoughby are ranked higher than those with lower voices like Viola Davis. Michelle Obama seems to be spared, however.

Top 10 most relaxing celebrity voices:

1. Sir David Attenborough

2. Stephen Fry

3. Michelle Obama

4. Stanley Tucci

5. Holly Willoughby

6. Julie Walters

7. Lily Allen

8. Graham Norton

9. Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly

10. Barack Obama — ETX Studio