Sexy People Sound Better

Sexy People Sound Better

Greg Soltis / LiveScience Staff
Wed Jul 16, 8:51 AM ET


People with voices deemed sexy and attractive tend to have greater body
symmetry upon close inspection, suggesting that what we hear in a
person can greatly affect what we see in them.

"The sound of a person’s voice reveals a considerable amount of
biological information," said Susan Hughes, an evolutionary
psychologist from Albright College in Reading, Pa. "It can reflect the mate value of a person."

Hughes, whose new study is detailed in the June 2008 edition of the
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, cautions that an attractive voice does
not necessarily indicate that this person has an attractive face.

A symmetric body
is genetically sound, scientists say, and in evolutionary terms, in the
wild, it can be an important factor when selecting a mate. But
sometimes changes during prenatal development can slightly skew this
balance. For instance, the length ratio between index and ring fingers,
known as the digit ratio, is fixed by the first trimester,
a time that corresponds with vocal cord and larynx development. If the
hormone surge that affects vocal development also affects finger
growth, there should be a connection between an individual’s voice and
digit ratio.

Hughes could not demonstrate a connection between voice
attractiveness and digit ratio in her previous work, possibly due to
vocal changes that occur during puberty. So in the new study, about 100
individuals listened to previously recorded voices and independently
rated them on nine traits important during mate selection:
approachability, dominance, healthiness, honesty, intelligence,
likelihood to get dates, maturity, sexiness and warmth.

Study participants generally agreed on what made a voice attractive.
But when Hughes used a spectrogram to analyze these voice ratings
according to different acoustic properties such as pitch, intensity, jitter and shimmer, she could not find a common feature that made these voices seem attractive.

This indicates our perceptual system may be more advanced than expected.

"We can agree on what’s an attractive voice yet I can’t capture it with a computer," Hughes told LiveScience.said.

 

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