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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

I dedicate this discussion to our overlord Neal, who had me at the first cranky "godammit!" As I suspect most female humans would agree, a lower pitched male voice is considered more attractive than a higher-pitched voice. Studies have shown that women prefer deep-voiced males as short-term sexual partners, that American men with deeper voices have more sexual partners, and that Hazda men with deeper voices have more surviving offspring. But to deflate the balloon of the sexual selection theory, a recent paper reported that deeper-voiced men have lower quality sperm than their shrill counterparts. So, is there an evolutionary reason for perceiving deep-voices as more attractive? Deep voices are associated with a heavier, taller man, presumably a better fighter or provider. But why would this undoubtedly very masculine quality result in lower sperm quality? The researchers speculate that the evolutionary model to be applied in this case is not based on phenotype-indicates-fecundity but rather on a trade off between sperm production and a heavy male investment in competition between males for female attention. 


The Barry White Syndome: Why Are Deep Voices Attractive?

Darth Vader had one thing going for him: a deep voice.

The ranks of George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Don LaFontaine, and Barry White includes a common factor: A lower pitched voice—considered a positive masculine feature associated with with older, heavier, taller, hairier, and more attractive men (1). Studies have demonstrated a female preference for men with deeper voices as short-term partners (and preference seems to vary across the menstrual cycle, peaking during the height of fertility) (2,3). And elsewhere, research finds that North American men with lower-pitched voices report higher numbers for sexual partners in comparison to men with higher-pitched voices (4); and that Hazda men with lower-pitched voices have more living offspring (pitch is not an indicator of fecundity, but mate suitability) (4). Sexual selection has been proposed as a reason for deeper voices—the timbre and pitch suggest an attractive, fertile encounter. But a December PLoS paper reports that men with deeper, attractive voices have lower sperm quality than men with less attractive voices. Is there a evolutionary basis for voice preference?

There is certainly a link between testosterone and voice pitch: when testosterone levels begin to rise during puberty, it triggers changes in the larynx and in the vocal cords resulting in lower pitched voices. So deeper voices become associated with other manifestations (like facial hair) of testosterone, and consequently, perceived sexual fitness. Women (and likely men) consistently make positive judgments about masculinity based on voice pitch that include both physiological and behavioral traits. In addition to the characteristics noted above, men with lower pitched voices are perceived as being physically larger (taller, heavier) and are believed to be better fighters and providers (4).

These assessments aren’t entirely made up. There is evidence that secondary sexual traits can predict health and fertility of a partner. Brilliant colors and showy displays have long been natural indicators of potential sexual fitness. For example, deer with bigger, more complex antlers also have larger testes and more motile sperm (5). Lower frequency sounds have been linked to larger body size across all primate species:

Read the rest here

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That last article you mention sounds like an evolutionary psychology excuse for not listening to the women in your life, LOLZ!

I don't think the iTit would solve this problem, neither would just changing the voice to a deeper tone. Remember that I said I thought women's voices sounded smoother when they are most able to conceive. The Scheffield team should combine that in their study.

I didn't find the original article in the journal NeuroImage.

Why Men Don't Listen to Women
He really isn't listening to you! But you won't believe the reason why.


When men and women speak, the human brain processes the sounds of those voices differently, Britain's Mirror and Agence France Presse report of a new study from the U.K.'s University of Sheffield. While most of us actually hear female voices more clearly, men's brains hear women's voices first as music. But it's not music. It's someone giving them a honey-do list. So the brain goes into overdrive trying to analyze what is being said. 

Bottom line: Men have to work harder deciphering what women are saying because they use the auditory part of the brain that processes music, not human voices. Men's brains are not designed to listen to women's voices. It's not the pitch of the woman's voice, but rather the vibration and number of sound waves that cause the problem, notes Discovery News.

But guys have no trouble at all hearing each other because men use a much simpler brain mechanism at the back of the brain to decipher another man's voice and recognize it as speech.

"The female voice is actually more complex than the male voice, due to differences in the size and shape of the vocal cords and larynx between men and women, and also due to women having greater natural 'melody' in their voices. This causes a more complex range of sound frequencies than in a male voice," lead researcher Michael Hunter told The Mirror. "When men hear a male voice they process it in the 'mind's eye.' This is the part of the brain where people compare their experiences to themselves, so the man is comparing his own voice to the new voice."

Here's a really bizarre side effect: These findings help explain why people who suffer hallucinations usually hear male voices. It's just too hard for the brain to create a false feminine voice as accurately as it can create a false masculine voice.

The research findings were published in the journal NeuroImage.


The following if from The University of Sheffield.

July 2005

Male and female voices affect brain differently

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have explained the differences in the way the male brain interprets male and female voices, explaining why people who hallucinate and hear false voices almost always hear a man. It also sheds new light on the way the brain processes voices to produce an `auditory face´ that allows people to determine aspects of someone´s physical appearance based solely on the way they sound.

The paper, published online in NeuroImage, describes how scientists studied brain scans of 12 male subjects whilst they listened to male and female voices. It found startling differences in the way that the brain interprets the two sounds, with female voices causing activity in the auditory section of the brain and the male voice sparking activity in the `mind´s eye´ at the back of the brain.

Dr Michael Hunter, of Professor Peter Woodruff´s group in the Department of Psychiatry and Division of Genomic Medicine at the University of Sheffield, and co-author of the study explains, "Voices allow the brain to determine various factors about a person´s appearance, including their sex, size and age. It is much more complex than most people think and is an extremely important tool for determining someone´s identity without having to see them.

"The female voice is actually more complex than the male voice, due to differences in the size and shape of the vocal cords and larynx between women and men, and also due to women having greater natural `melody´ in their voices.. This causes a more complex range of sound frequencies than in a male voice.

"When a man hears a female voice the auditory section of his brain is activated, which analyses the different sounds in order to `read´ the voice and determine the auditory face.

"When men hear a male voice the part of the brain that processes the information is towards the back of the brain and is colloquially known as the `mind´s eye´. This is the part of the brain where people compare their experiences to themselves, so the man is comparing his own voice to the new voice to determine gender.

"People who hear hallucinatory voices usually hear male voices. Psychiatrists believe that these auditory hallucinations are caused when the brain spontaneously activates, creating a false perception of a voice. The reason these voices are usually male could be explained by the fact that the female voice is so much more complex that the brain would find it much harder to create a false female voice accurately than a false male voice.
"This research could also explain why female voices are considered to be clearer then male voices. This could be linked to the fact that female voices are interpreted in the auditory part of the brain, and are therefore more easily decoded."

For further information please contact the media team on 0114 222 5338/9


More articles about voice processing from the University of Sheffield are here.

How do you explain deep female voice? is it hormones or something? I dont know :)

 

It could be partly hor

There might be something else to be be worth of notice,  children having fun or talking really quickly or screaming, they have really high pitched voices so maybe the hormone factor should be taken into account...

Of course hormones play a role; this is why boys (girls too, but to a lesser degree) change their voices when they reach puberty. But the final result depends also on size of the larynx, the chest cavity, and who knows how many other factors. Maybe the musicians in the group can comment? Is it clearly understood why some people are tenors and other baritones, etc?

Adriana, I haven't listened to the opera you sent me yet, it will be my treat for the day...

I also wanted to add that I once met an opera singer a long long time ago (in England)  obviously she didn't smoke when almost everybody around were smoking at the time, and I remember she was big, meaning she has a huge thoracic cage, and also big too...

Yes, Cecilia Bartoli is big, too. I was told I look like her (I do have the same type of face and same hair, etc., but I'm not as corpulent as she is, I'm on the slim side), I took it as a compliment because i think she is a beautiful, very talented woman.

Sonorous Seduction

Krystal D'Costa upends our instinctual attraction to deep male voices:

There is certainly a link between testosterone and voice pitch: when testosterone levels begin to rise during puberty, it triggers changes in the larynx and in the vocal cords resulting in lower pitched voices. So deeper voices become associated with other manifestations (like facial hair) of testosterone, and consequently, perceived sexual fitness. ... However, semen analysis reveals that men with deeper voices have lower scores on seven motility parameters —even when the lifestyle and environmental factors are accounted for. While men with deeper voices may have more sexual partners, they seem less prepared to pass on their genes. Researchers believe the lower sperm quality reflects a trade-off that comes with having to compete for mates: "Animals have finite resources to partition amongst reproductive activities, and the theoretical models of sperm expenditure assume a basic trade-off between male investment in attracting mates and in gaining fertilizations."

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