What makes a voice masculine: physiological and acoustical correlates of women's ratings of men's vocal masculinity

Cartei, Valentina, Bond, Rod and Reby, David (2014) What makes a voice masculine: physiological and acoustical correlates of women's ratings of men's vocal masculinity. Hormones and Behavior, 66 (4). pp. 569-576. ISSN 0018-506X

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Men's voices contain acoustic cues to body size and hormonal status, which have been found to affect women's ratings of speaker size, masculinity and attractiveness. However, the extent to which these voice parameters mediate the relationship between speakers' fitness-related features and listener's judgments of their masculinity has not yet been investigated.

We audio-recorded 37 adult heterosexual males performing a range of speech tasks and asked 20 adult heterosexual female listeners to rate speakers' masculinity on the basis of their voices only. We then used a two-level (speaker within listener) path analysis to examine the relationships between the physiological (testosterone, height), acoustic (fundamental frequency or F0, and resonances or ΔF) and perceptual dimensions (listeners' ratings) of speakers' masculinity. Overall, results revealed that male speakers who were taller and had higher salivary testosterone levels also had lower F0 and ΔF, and were in turn rated as more masculine. The relationship between testosterone and perceived masculinity was essentially mediated by F0, while that of height and perceived masculinity was partially mediated by both F0 and ΔF.

These observations confirm that women listeners attend to sexually dimorphic voice cues to assess the masculinity of unseen male speakers. In turn, variation in these voice features correlate with speakers' variation in stature and hormonal status, highlighting the interdependence of these physiological, acoustic and perceptual dimensions.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Masculinity; Body size; Height; Testosterone; Androgen; Voice; Formants; Vocal tract; Fundamental frequency; Pitch
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Depositing User: David Reby
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2014 06:54
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2017 12:30
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/50501

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