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Anim Behav. 2000 Dec;60(6):773-780.

Men's voices and women's choices.

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Behavioural Biology Section, Institute of Evolutionary & Ecological Sciences, Leiden, The Netherlands


I investigated the relationship between male human vocal characteristics and female judgements about the speaker. Thirty-four males were recorded uttering five vowels and measures were taken, from power spectrums, of the first five harmonic frequencies, overall peak frequency and formant frequencies (emphasized, resonance, frequencies within the vowel). Male body measures were also taken (age, weight, height, and hip and shoulder width) and the men were asked whether they had chest hair. The recordings were then played to female judges, who were asked to rate the males' attractiveness, age, weight and height, and to estimate the muscularity of the speaker and whether he had a hairy chest. Men with voices in which there were closely spaced, low-frequency harmonics were judged as being more attractive, older and heavier, more likely to have a hairy chest and of a more muscular body type. There was no relationship between any vocal and body characteristic. The judges' estimates were incorrect except for weight. They showed extremely strong agreement on all judgements. The results imply that there could be sexual selection through female choice for male vocal characteristics, deeper voices being preferred. However, the function of the preference is unclear given that the estimates were generally incorrect. Copyright 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

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