Study Shows Voice Attractiveness
Predicts Sexual Behavior
If, sight unseen,
you think someone sounds attractive, chances
are you're right
Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980
ALBANY, N.Y. (September 20, 2004) -- University
at Albany researchers have found a significant
association between the perceived attractiveness
of a person's voice and the sexual activity
of the speaker. In addition, researchers discovered
that judging a voice can predict certain aspects
of the body type of the speaker.
"When the phone rings," said psychologist
Gordon G. Gallup Jr., "even though you
may not know the person at the other end of
the line, as soon as they speak you usually
know whether you are talking to a male or female,
and a child or adult. In other words, the sound
of a person's voice conveys information about
the biological status of the speaker. Our research
shows that voice might be a medium that also
conveys subtle information about sexual behavior
and body configuration."
In "Ratings of voice attractiveness predict
sexual behavior and body configuration,"
published in the September issue of Evolution
and Human Behavior, published by Elsevier,
Susan Hughes, Franco Dispenza, and Gordon Gallup
of the University's department of psychology
tested 149 men and women by having them listen
to recorded, neutral voices counting from 1
to 10. They were then asked to rate the anonymous
voices on a scale from "very unattractive"
to "very attractive." The results
were compared to surveys and morphological measurements
taken among the speakers. Researchers discovered
that people whose voices are judged to be attractive
tend to have sexual intercourse at an earlier
age, have more sexual partners than those with
voices rated less attractive, and are more prone
to sexual infidelity. They also have more sex
partners among people involved in other relationships.
"In short," Gallup said, "ratings
of voice attractiveness are correlated with
promiscuity in both men and women."
In addition, the UAlbany researchers linked
voice attractiveness to body features, including
shoulder-to-hip ratio in men and waist-to-hip
ratio in women. In the study, broad shoulders
and narrow hips, which are related to testosterone
and growth, can, like voice attractiveness,
predict promiscuity in males. In women, voice
attractiveness was linked to a narrow waist
and broad hips, features also affected by hormones
and growth and that predict female attractiveness
The authors also note in their report that
there is growing evidence that a person's voice
might convey important information not usually
associated with communication or sexual appeal.
For instance, ratings of voice attractiveness
also predict deviations from bilateral symmetry
in both men and women. In comparing the length
of the fingers on both hands, they noted that
people with voices rated as attractive tend
to have finger lengths on one hand that more
closely match those on the other. As ratings
of voice attractiveness decrease, the deviations
between features on one side of the body and
the other become greater -- in other words,
as the voice is rated less attractive, the body
tends to be less symmetric.
The report's authors conclude that the sound
of a person's voice can be used to predict features
associated with reproductive success including
sexual behavior, body configuration, and bilateral
symmetry, and theorize that prior to the development
of means of artificial lighting, at night people
were more reliant on voice as a means of discerning
valuable reproductive characteristics of others.
For a PDF file of the report, visit http://www.albany.edu/news/pdf_files/press.htm.