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November 16, 2011 at 3:21 PMComments: 3 Faves: 1

Study Shows Low Pitched Voices Preferred by Voters

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

While as American children, we are told that ANYBODY, even WE, could be president, with age we quickly learn there are some of us are much more likely to make it than others.

Those that are taller and are more attractive fair a better chance. Being rich and successful is a given.

Up until very recently, every candidate we saw was both male and Caucasian, but even President Obama and female candidates Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, and this years Michelle Bachman, seem to have some core similarities.


Why do our leaders share so much in common?

Perhaps, as evolutionary psychologists suggest,

...leaders are not just made- theyre born.

In a study released this week from McMaster University, researchers explored just one facet of our presidential preferences and apparently thats a low pitched voice!

In their research, they had 125 participants listen to 3 different versions of a past presidents voice recording - one that had been modified to be at a higher-pitch, one that was modified to be lower and one that was unaltered. Based on the voice alone, participants rated the speakers looks, leadership abilities, honesty, intelligence and dominance and then finally, were asked which of the three recording versions they would elect as president.

In every recording, the lower-pitched version got the majority vote.

Cara Tigue, one of the authors on this study, explains the evolutionary benefit of this voice bias.

"Throughout our evolutionary history, it would have been important for our ancestors to pay attention to cues to good leadership, because group leaders affected a person's ability to survive and reproduce within a groupWe're looking at it in a present-day, 21st-Century context."

What your voice is saying....

Our voice, you see, is an indicator of both our intelligence and of our hormone levels!

In fact, a womans voice changes slightly throughout her hormonal cycle - peaking to its highest pitch at ovulation when she is most fertile which explains why men subconsciously find higher-pitched voices more attractive.

A low-pitched voice on the other hand, is a signal of male health and fertility, explaining why, especially around ovulation or when seeking a short-term relationship, women tend to favor men with deep voices.

This also explains why confidence, leadership ability and dominance traits most closely associated with masculinity are most strongly associated with lower-pitched voices.

(Yes, even in female candidates.)

And its not just the vocal pitch offering clues the pace and inflection of a voice send a message as well. For example, we judge fast talkers to be more intelligent than those with a slow drawl and a good amount of variance in inflection suggests the speaker is passionate and interesting.

Clearly, a good voice can be a huge benefit for its owner!

In fact, says David Feinberg, not only can we be attracted by a voice, In general, people with attractive voices have attractive faces," but then, maybe thats all a mind trick as well!

According to another voice study, if a candidates voice does outshine his or her face,, they can still trick us into thinking they are more attractive than we normally would they just need to keep talking!



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  • Whoa! That's really fascinating. I wonder if candidates might (or if they already do) undergo speech training...I mean, you probably couldn't do too much about the pitch, but you could probably learn to speak faster and with more inflection.

    I look forward to following these blogs :)

  • Wow that's interesting. Never would have thought much about low-pitched voices and the psychology behind it. Thanks for posting this! I am with Laura, I wonder if they undergo some sort of speech training on lowering their pitch. Super excited for your weekly Id and Ego posts.

  • Laura, Bri -

    Actually, a lot of politicians DO undergo speech training! And who knows, after this study, some may even try boosting their testosterone levels in an attempt to lower their pitch!

    I mean, if you though the stakes were high in professional sports, try paying out millions of dollars in an election you may not win!

    Wouldn't be surprised...

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