Jones BC, Feinberg DR, DeBruine LM, Little AC & Vukovic J (2010). A domain-specific opposite-sex bias in human preferences for manipulated voice pitch. Animal Behaviour, 79(1): 57-62. doi: doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.10.003

Women’s preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s voices and men’s preferences for feminine characteristics in women’s voices are thought to reflect adaptations that identify high quality (e.g., healthy) mates. Consistent with this proposal, here we show that men demonstrate stronger preferences for women’s voices with raised pitch (i.e., feminised female voices) than women do and that women demonstrate stronger preferences for men’s voices with lowered pitch (i.e., masculinised male voices) than men do. Importantly, however, no such opposite-sex bias was evident for attributions of dominance to voices with raised and lowered pitch; men’s and women’s voices with lowered pitch were perceived to be more dominant than those with raised pitch and these effects were equivalent for male and female listeners. Collectively, our findings suggest that preferences for voice pitch may function, at least in part, to identify high quality mates and show that opposite-sex biases in preferences for voice pitch cannot be explained simply by greater general sensitivity to manipulated pitch in opposite-sex voices than in own-sex voices.

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