Voice pitch alters mate-choice-relevant perception in hunter–gatherers Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In humans, voice pitch is thought to be a cue of underlying quality and an important criterion for mate choice, but data from non-Western cultures have not been provided. Here we test attributions to and preferences for voices with raised and lowered pitch in hunter-gatherers. Using a forced-choice playback experiment, we found that both men and women viewed lower pitched voices in the opposite sex as being better at acquiring resources (e.g. hunting and gathering). While men preferred higher pitched women's voices as marriage partners, women showed no overall preference for voice pitch in men. However, women who were currently breastfeeding had stronger preferences for higher pitched male voices whereas women not currently breastfeeding preferred lower pitched voices. As testosterone is considered a costly signal associated with dominance, heritable immunity to infection and low paternal investment, women's preferences potentially reflect a trade-off between securing good genes and paternal investment. Men's preferences for higher pitched female voices are probably due to an evolved preference for markers of fecundity, reflected in voice pitch.

publication date

  • March 22, 2009