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Low-voiced men love ’em and leave ’em, yet still attract more women: study

Oct. 16, 2013
Courtesy of McMaster University
and World Science staff

Low-voiced men have an edge in at­tract­ing wom­en, even though wom­en know they’re un­likely to stick around long, ac­cord­ing to re­search­ers.

The sci­en­tists found in a study that wom­en were more at­tracted to men with mas­cu­line voices, at least for short-term rela­t­ion­ships. Those men were al­so seen as more likely to cheat and un­suit­a­ble for a long­er rela­t­ion­ship and mar­riage.

The stu­dy, pub­lished on­line in the jour­nal Per­son­al­ity and In­di­vid­ual Dif­fer­ences, of­fers in­sight in­to the ev­o­lu­tion of the voice and how we choose our mates, the re­search­ers said.

“The sound of some­one’s voice can af­fect how we think of them,” ex­plained lead au­thor Jil­lian O’­Con­nor, a post­doc­tor­al fel­low at Mc­Mas­ter Uni­vers­ity in Can­a­da. “Un­til now, it’s been un­clear why wom­en would like the voices of men who might cheat. But we found that the more wom­en thought these men would cheat, the more they were at­tracted to them for a brief rela­t­ion­ship when they are less wor­ried about fi­del­ity.”

For the stu­dy, 87 wom­en lis­tened to men’s voices that were ma­ni­pu­lated elec­tron­ic­ally to sound high­er or low­er, and then chose who they thought was more likely to cheat on their ro­mantic part­ner.

Re­search­ers al­so asked the par­ti­ci­pants to choose the voice they thought was more at­trac­tive for a long-term ver­sus a short-term rela­t­ion­ship.

“From an ev­o­lu­tion­ary per­spec­tive, these per­cep­tions of fu­ture sex­u­al infi­del­ity may be adap­tive,” that is, they may have been use­ful for hu­man an­ces­tors whose re­pro­duc­tive be­hav­ior shaped our spe­cies, said Mc­Mas­ter’s Da­vid Fein­berg, who col­la­bo­rat­ed with O’­Con­nor.

“The con­se­quenc­es of infi­del­ity are very high wheth­er it is emo­tion­al or fi­nan­cial and this re­search sug­gests that hu­mans have evolved as a pro­tec­tion mech­an­ism to avoid long-term part­ners who may cheat,” he said.


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Men with low voices have an edge in attracting women, even though women know they’re unlikely to stick around long, according to researchers. The scientists found in a study that women were more attracted to men with masculine voices, at least for short-term relationships. Those men were also seen as more likely to cheat and unsuitable for a longer relationship and marriage. The study, published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, offers insight into the evolution of the human voice and how we choose our mates, the researchers said. “The sound of someone’s voice can affect how we think of them,” explained lead author Jillian O’Connor, a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University in Canada. “Until now, it’s been unclear why women would like the voices of men who might cheat. But we found that the more women thought these men would cheat, the more they were attracted to them for a brief relationship when they are less worried about fidelity.” For the study, 87 women listened to men’s voices that were manipulated electronically to sound higher or lower, and then chose who they thought was more likely to cheat on their romantic partner. Researchers also asked the participants to choose the voice they thought was more attractive for a long-term versus a short-term relationship. “From an evolutionary perspective, these perceptions of future sexual infidelity may be adaptive,” that is, they may have played a useful role in human ancestors whose reproductive behavior shaped our species, said McMaster’s David Feinberg, who collaborated with O’Connor. “The consequences of infidelity are very high whether it is emotional or financial and this research suggests that humans have evolved as a protection mechanism to avoid long-term partners who may cheat,” he said.