Finding love is hard enough; the last thing you want to do is hook up with someone who may cheat on you someday. But how can you tell whether a romantic interest might fool around? Actually, the pitch of a person's voice may hold clues to a mate's potential for hanky-panky, suggests new research.
In the study, published online in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, men thought women who had higher-pitched voices were more likely to stray, while women believed men with lower-pitched voices were more apt to have a fling.
What was surprising is that these beliefs occurred regardless of whether people actually preferred these types of voices and considered them more attractive, says Jillian O'Connor, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and the study's lead author.
More than 100 college students, 49 men and 55 women, were asked to listen to audio recordings of four pairs of male and female voices reading vowel sounds. (So, they weren't exactly whispering sweet nothings.) Each voice had been electronically manipulated to create a higher and lower pitch version. Participants were asked to choose which voice in each pair was more likely to cheat on their romantic partner. Participants then listened to another six voice pairs and were asked to select the one in each pair they found more attractive.
Both men and women considered a higher-pitched female voice more attractive than a masculine-sounding one. Women preferred a lower-pitched male voice to a feminine-sounding one.
"Our findings show that listeners form perceptions of the sexual strategies of strangers based solely on the sound of their voice," explains O'Connor. "This is important because our preconceptions of the likelihood of future infidelity will influence who we pursue for a relationship."
Other factors, such as hormones, determine the pitch of your voice and may also affect your mate selection.
Although chicks dig a dude with a deeper voice, research has also linked it with higher levels of testosterone as well as with a greater number of sexual partners.
Higher levels of estrogen account for a higher-pitched female voice, which guys find sexier and more desirable. But studies have found that women who sound more feminine were more likely to cheat on their partners, perhaps because they attract more interest and have more opportunities.
If you're currently playing the dating game, how can you use this new information to avoid heartbreak down the road?
Practically speaking, people are likely to avoid pursuing potential mates that they view as risky, O'Connor says. "If these preconceptions help us to chose better mates, then we may be better able to avoid paying the costs of infidelity, such as divorce, financial loss, and sexually transmitted infections."
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