Vukovic J, Jones BC, DeBruine LM, Feinberg DR, Smith FG, Little AC, Welling LLM & Main JC (2010). Women’s own voice pitch predicts their preferences for masculinity in men’s voices. Behavioral Ecology, 21(4): 767-772. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arq051

Previous studies have found that indices of women’s attractiveness predict variation in their mate preferences. For example, objective measures of women’s attractiveness (waist-hip ratio and other-rated facial attractiveness) are positively related to the strength of their preferences for masculinity in men’s faces. Here, we examined whether women’s preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s voices were related to their own vocal characteristics. We found that women’s preferences for men’s voices with lowered (i.e., masculinized) pitch versus raised (i.e., feminized) pitch were positively associated with women’s own average voice pitch. Since voice pitch is positively correlated with many indices of women’s attractiveness, our findings suggest that the attractiveness of the perceiver predicts variation in women’s preferences for masculinity in men’s voices. Such attractiveness-contingent preferences may be adaptive if attractive women are more likely to be able to attract and/or retain masculine mates than relatively unattractive women are. Interestingly, the attractiveness-contingent masculinity preferences observed in our study appeared to be modulated by the semantic content of the judged speech (positively valenced versus negatively valenced speech), suggesting that attractiveness-contingent individual differences in masculinity preferences do not necessarily reflect variation in responses to simple physical properties of the stimulus.

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