Tigue CC, Borak DJ, O’Connor JJM, Schandl C, Feinberg DR. Voice pitch influences voting behavior. Evolution and Human Behavior. PDF
It may be adaptive for voters to recognize qualities that indicate dominance and leadership ability among politicians. Men with lower pitched voices are found to be more dominant and attractive to both men and women than are men with higher pitched voices. Although correlational studies have suggested that both attractiveness and low frequency components of candidates’ voices relate to voting behavior, no study has tested the influence of voice pitch on voting-related perceptions. Therefore we tested whether voice pitch influenced perceptions of politicians and how these perceptions related to voting behavior. We manipulated voice pitch of recordings of nine past U.S. presidents to create two versions of each voice: lower pitch and higher pitch. We asked participants to attribute personality traits to either version of the voices and to choose the version of the voice they would be more likely to vote for in two different scenarios: a general national election and an election in a time of war. We found that lower pitched voices were associated with favorable personality traits more often than were higher pitched voices. Both men and women preferred to vote for politicians with lower pitched voices than politicians with higher pitched voices. Furthermore, lower pitch was more strongly associated with traits relating to physical prowess than with those relating to integrity in the wartime scenario only. Although low voice pitch was associated with attractiveness, dominance, and voting preferences, voting preferences in the wartime scenario were more closely tied to dominance than to attractiveness. Sensitivity to vocal cues to masculinity and strength during wartime was heightened, suggesting that candidates’ voice pitch has an important influence on voting behavior.