Here’s How Much Of Your Sexuality Is In Your Voice


Have you ever felt that someone might be sexy because of the sound of their voice? Well it’s true. Voice attractiveness predicts symmetry, which is one of the primary markers of attractiveness:

Previous research (Hughes et al. Evolution and Human Behavior 23:173–180, 2002) has shown that ratings of voice attractiveness are negatively correlated to fluctuating asymmetry (FA, a measure of developmental stability and fitness) but are unrelated to the second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D, a measure of prenatal sex hormone exposure). In the present study, we considered ratings of these voices based on a number of other descriptive traits that may be particularly important in mate selection. Men with voices rated as approachable, intelligent, sexy, and warm showed greater bilateral body symmetry. Women with voices rated as approachable, sexy, and most likely to get dates also tended to be more symmetrical. Furthermore, voices rated as dominant and mature were negatively correlated to 2D:4D ratios in women, suggesting an effect of exposure to higher levels of prenatal androgen. Unlike subjective ratings, objective measures of voice obtained through spectrogram analyses did not account for much variance in either symmetry or digit ratios. These findings implicate the perceptual qualities of voice as a salient marker of underlying genetic quality and viability.

Source: “The Sound of Symmetry Revisited: Subjective and Objective Analyses of Voice” from Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 2. (14 June 2008), pp. 93-108.

A higher voice may be seen as more feminine but both sexes lower their voice when they find someone attractive:

We examined how individuals may change their voices when speaking to attractive versus unattractive individuals, and if it were possible for others to perceive these vocal changes. In addition, we examined if any concurrent physiological effects occurred when speaking with individuals who varied in physical attractiveness. We found that both sexes used a lower-pitched voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to the more attractive, opposite-sex target. Furthermore, independent raters evaluated the voice samples directed toward the attractive target (versus the unattractive target) as sounding more pleasant when the two voice samples from the same person presented had a reasonably perceptually noticeable difference in pitch. These findings may have implications for the role voice plays in mate selection and attraction.

Source: “Vocal and Physiological Changes in Response to the Physical Attractiveness of Conversational Partners” from Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

A woman’s voice can tell you how fertile she is:

We investigated ratings of female voice attractiveness as a function of menstrual cycle phase. Women had their voices recorded at four different times during their menstrual cycle. Voice samples were categorized from low to high conception risk based on menstrual cycle phase and empirical pregnancy data. Results showed a significant increase in voice attractiveness ratings as the risk of conception increased across the menstrual cycle in naturally cycling women. There was no effect for women using hormonal contraceptives. Previous research shows that the sound of a person’s voice appears to serve as an honest signal of fitness, and our results show perceptual shifts in women’s voices that match the predicted output of an independent and well-designed fertility monitoring system. More work is needed to identify the biological mechanisms that underlie these perceptual differences, but growing evidence points to the impact of hormones on the larynx as being the source of these changes.

Source: “Women’s voice attractiveness varies across the menstrual cycle” from Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 4, Pages 268-274 (July 2008)

And a woman’s interest in masculine voices is tied to her level of fertility:

Previous studies have reported variation in women’s preferences for masculinity in men’s faces and voices. Women show consistent preferences for vocal masculinity, but highly variable preferences for facial masculinity. Within individuals, men with attractive voices tend to have attractive faces, suggesting common information may be conveyed by these cues. Here we tested whether men and women with particularly strong preferences for male vocal masculinity also have stronger preferences for male facial masculinity. We found that masculinity preferences were positively correlated across modalities. We also investigated potential influences on these relationships between face and voice preferences. Women using oral contraceptives showed weaker facial and vocal masculinity preferences and weaker associations between masculinity preferences across modalities than women not using oral contraceptives. Collectively, these results suggest that men’s faces and voices may reveal common information about the masculinity of the sender, and that these multiple quality cues could be used in conjunction by the perceiver in order to determine the overall quality of individuals.

Source: “Correlated preferences for men’s facial and vocal masculinity” from Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 4, Pages 233-241 (July 2008)

Of course it’s not all in your voice, often it’s in what you say.

Ladies, men do use different, fancier words to try and impress you:

The average human vocabulary consists of approximately 20,000 word families, yet only 6000-7000 word families are required to understand most communication. One possible explanation for this level of redundancy is that vocabulary size is selected as a fitness indicator and is used for display. Human vocabulary size correlates highly with measurable intelligence and when choosing potential mates individuals actively prefer other correlates of intelligence, such as education. Here we show that males used more low frequency words after an imaginary romantic encounter with a young female shown in a photograph relative to when they viewed photographs of older females. Females used fewer low frequency words when they imagined a romantic encounter with a young male shown in a photograph relative to when they viewed photographs of older males. These differences in male and female vocabulary displays may be related to sex differences in investment costs in offspring.

Source: “Human vocabulary use as display” from Evolutionary Psychology, 2008. 6(3): 538-549 

And, guys, those sounds women make during sex? Don’t trust them:

The current studies were conducted in order to investigate the phenomenon of copulatory vocalizations and their relationship to orgasm in women. Data were collected from 71 sexually active heterosexual women (M age = 21.68 years ± .52) recruited from the local community through opportunity sampling. The studies revealed that orgasm was most frequently reported by women following self-manipulation of the clitoris, manipulation by the partner, oral sex delivered to the woman by a man, and least frequently during vaginal penetration. More detailed examination of responses during intercourse revealed that, while female orgasms were most commonly experienced during foreplay, copulatory vocalizations were reported to be made most often before and simultaneously with male ejaculation. These data together clearly demonstrate a dissociation of the timing of women experiencing orgasm and making copulatory vocalizations and indicate that there is at least an element of these responses that are under conscious control, providing women with an opportunity to manipulate male behavior to their advantage.

Source: “Evidence to Suggest that Copulatory Vocalizations in Women Are Not a Reflexive Consequence of Orgasm” from Archives of Sexual Behavior

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