Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Low-voiced men love 'em and leave 'em, yet still attract more women

Men with low-pitched voices have an advantage in attracting women, even though women know they're not likely to stick around for long. Researchers at McMaster University have found that women were more attracted to men with masculine voices, at least for short-term relationships. Those men were also seen as more likely to cheat and unsuitable for a longer relationship, such as marriage. The study, published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, offers insight into the evolution of the human voice and how we choose our mates. "The sound of someone's voice can affect how we think of them," explains Jillian O'Connor, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour and lead author of the study. "Until now, it's been unclear why women would like the voices of men who might cheat. But we found that the more women thought these men would cheat, the more they were attracted to them for a brief relationship when they are less worried about fidelity." For the study, 87 women listened to men's voices that were manipulated electronically to sound higher or lower, and then chose who they thought was more likely to cheat on their romantic partner. Researchers also asked the participants to choose the voice they thought was more attractive for a long-term versus a short-term relationship. "From an evolutionary perspective, these perceptions of future sexual infidelity may be adaptive," explains David Feinberg, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. "The consequences of infidelity are very high whether it is emotional or financial and this research suggests that humans have evolved as a protection mechanism to avoid long-term partners who may cheat," he says.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Think your partner is cheating? His or her voice may be a dead giveaway.

New research by Albright College associate professor of psychology Susan Hughes, Ph.D., has found that men and women alter their voices when speaking to lovers versus friends and that such variations can potentially be used to detect infidelity. "It's not just that we change the sound of our voice, but that others can easily perceive those changes," said Hughes, an expert in evolutionary psychology and voice perception. The findings are included in a new article, "People Will Know We Are in Love: Evidence of Differences Between Vocal Samples Directed Toward Lovers and Friends," published this month in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. The study is co-authored by Jack LaFayette, director of institutional research at Albright, and Sally D. Farley, former assistant professor of psychology at Albright, who now teaches at the University of Baltimore. The study looked at how individuals alter their voices, or engage in voice modulation, when speaking to romantic partners versus same-sex friends during brief telephone conversations. Researchers recruited 24 callers who were newly in love and still in the so-called honeymoon period. Callers were asked to phone their romantic partners, as well as a close same-sex friend, and in both cases engage in a conversation asking specifically "how are you?" and "what are you doing?" Researchers then played the recordings to 80 independent raters who judged the samples for sexiness, pleasantness and degree of romantic interest. Raters were exposed to only one end of the conversation and, in some cases, for only 2 seconds. Still, raters were able to correctly identify, with greater than chance accuracy, whether the caller was speaking to a friend or lover, leading researchers to believe that people will alter their voice to communicate their relationship status. "Vocal samples directed toward romantic partners were rated as sounding more pleasant, sexier and reflecting greater romantic interest than those directed toward same-sex friends," according to the article. Researchers also performed a spectrogram analysis on the samples to examine pitch and found that both men and women tend to mimic or match the pitch of their romantic partners. Women will use a lower pitch, while men will employ a higher one when speaking to their romantic partner. According to the article, this effect "represents desire for affiliation and intimacy" and is a "way to communicate affection and relational connection -- 'I am one with you.'" Researchers were, however, surprised by the results of the paralanguage analysis. Paralanguage samples are stripped of their content, while maintaining elements such as inflection and intonation. In these samples, raters could sense stress, nervousness and lack of confidence in the voices of callers speaking to their lovers, which could be attributed to the early stages of romantic love. "There was vulnerability associated with the voices of those newly in love. Perhaps people don't want to be rejected," said Hughes.