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Voters Prefer Candidates With Deep Voices

March 14, 2012

A team of researchers from the University of Miami and Duke University find that voters prefer candidates with lower-pitch voices; the findings could have important implications for women who seek positions of leadership

Convincing speeches are central to campaigning for elected office, but do our voices affect how we select our leaders? A newly-published paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences shows that men and women vote for male and female candidates with lower-pitched voices. Men and women with lower voices were also found to be perceived as more competent, stronger, and more trustworthy. Each of these attributes is known to influence voters.

“Our study asks how voice pitch influences electability, and to my knowledge is the first to examine the voices of both male and female candidates,” says Casey Klofstad, associate professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami and corresponding author for the study. “For example, we found that men and women perceive lower pitched female voices to be more competent and stronger. In contrast, only men perceive lower pitched male voices to be more competent and stronger.”

These findings suggest that men and women with lower voices may be more successful in obtaining positions of leadership. The results also raise the possibility that the electability of female candidates could be influenced by the fact that women tend to have higher-pitched voices than men. This study also demonstrates that while people are free to choose their leaders, these choices cannot be understood in isolation from biological influences.

The study is titled “Sounds like a winner: voice pitch influences perception of leadership capacity in both men and women” Co-authors are Rindy C. Anderson and Susan Peters, research associates in the Department of Biology at Duke University.

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