If you’re looking for a long-term relationship or to boost your social status, lower your pitch, according to researchers studying the effects of voice pitch on social perceptions. They found that lower voice pitch makes women and men sound more attractive to potential long-term partners, and lower voice pitch in males makes the individual sound more formidable and prestigious among other men.
The results of the cross-cultural study, published in the journal Psychological Science, have implications for understanding human evolution and how people today confer and evaluate social status.
“Vocal communication is one of the most important human characteristics, and pitch is the most perceptually noticeable aspect of voice,” said David Puts, study co-author and professor of anthropology at Penn State. “Understanding how voice pitch influences social perceptions can help us understand social relationships more broadly, how we attain social status, how we evaluate others on social status and how we choose mates.”
To study how voice pitch influences social perceptions, the researchers selected two male and two female voice recordings all repeating the same sentence. They edited the clips to produce the average pitch for the speaker’s sex plus a higher-pitched and lower-pitched version of each voice, for a total of 12 clips, and divided the clips into male-male and female-female pairings. The researchers then asked more than 3,100 participants across 22 countries, representing five continents and New Zealand, to listen to the paired recordings and answer questions about which voice sounded more attractive, flirtatious, formidable and prestigious.