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The science of attraction: voice

How much can we learn about a person from the sound of their voice? Well, scientific evidence suggests that it is a lot more than we may think. Studies show that listeners are able to match a voice with the correct speaker's photograph over 75 percent of the time (1). Individuals are also able to determine characteristics, such as socioeconomic status, personality, emotional/mental state, age, height, and weight, with as much accuracy from listening to a voice sample as from looking at a photograph (1). In fact, how people sound when they speak also greatly influences how attractive they seem to others (1).


Although voice appeal may seem like a matter of perception, scientists have found many biological factors that are directly related to voice pitch. For women, voice pitch depends a lot on estrogen, which is the female hormone produced by the ovaries (2). High levels of estrogen result in higher pitched voices (2). In addition, hormones that influence a woman's voice also determine body dimensions (1). Therefore, women with higher pitched voices, tend to have wider hips relative to their waist (1). However a woman's voice does not always remain constant. When females are most fertile, during ovulation, their voice pitch rises (3). Therefore, males find higher pitched voices more attractive in females because subconsciously, they associate it with fertility and body dimensions that are ideal for reproduction (1).  
 

Just as female hormones influence voice pitch in women, testosterone influences voice and physical qualities in men (1). For males, a deep voice can be an indication of strength, fitness, a more muscular build, and shoulders that are relatively broad, compared to a narrow waist (1). Studies also prove that men with deep voices tend to have more attractive faces (1). Because women make these subconscious associations of deep voices with genetic fitness and handsome faces, they are more attracted to men who possess them (1).


It might seem intimidating to know that there are so many things we tell others about ourselves, not simply by what we say, but by how we sound when we say it. Although we cannot alter our hormones to make our voice more masculine or feminine, there are certain things we can do to improve the way we sound when we speak (1). Maintaining a positive and generous attitude when speaking is an easy way to seem more approachable and engaging to others (1). Confidence is another important characteristic that can be detected in voices (1). It has been directly linked to voice appeal (1). Therefore, being less self critical and realizing how much we have to offer can really improve how we come across to others, which can be extremely beneficial for business relationships, friendly relationships, romantic relationships, and most importantly, the relationship we have with ourselves.
 

References:

  1. Why an Attractive Voice Means a Good Mate:  The Science of Sex
  2. Sex Appeal Measured Through A Woman's High Voice
  3. The Five Elements of Attractiveness

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