Voice Pitch Influences Perceptions of Sexual Infidelity Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Sexual infidelity can be costly to members of both the extra-pair and the paired couple. Thus, detecting infidelity risk is potentially adaptive if it aids in avoiding cuckoldry or loss of parental and relationship investment. Among men, testosterone is inversely related to voice pitch, relationship and offspring investment, and is positively related to the pursuit of short-term relationships, including extra-pair sex. Among women, estrogen is positively related to voice pitch, attractiveness, and the likelihood of extra-pair involvement. Although prior work has demonstrated a positive relationship between men's testosterone levels and infidelity, this study is the first to investigate attributions of infidelity as a function of sexual dimorphism in male and female voices. We found that men attributed high infidelity risk to feminized women's voices, but not significantly more often than did women. Women attributed high infidelity risk to masculinized men's voices at significantly higher rates than did men. These data suggest that voice pitch is used as an indicator of sexual strategy in addition to underlying mate value. The aforementioned attributions may be adaptive if they prevent cuckoldry and/or loss of parental and relationship investment via avoidance of partners who may be more likely to be unfaithful.

publication date

  • January 2011