A domain-specific opposite-sex bias in human preferences for manipulated voice pitch

Benedict C. Jones, David R. Feinberg, Lisa M. DeBruine, Anthony C. Little, Jovana Vukovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


Women's preferences for masculine characteristics in men's voices and men's preferences for feminine characteristics in women's voices are thought to reflect adaptations that identify high-quality (e.g. healthy) mates. Consistent with this proposal, we found that men had stronger preferences than women for women's voices with raised pitch (i.e. feminized female voices) and that women had stronger preferences than men for men's voices with lowered pitch (i.e. masculinized male voices). Importantly, however, no such opposite-sex bias was evident for attributions of dominance to voices with raised and lowered pitch; men's and women's voices with lowered pitch were perceived to be more dominant than those with raised pitch and these effects were equivalent for male and female listeners. Collectively, our findings suggest that preferences for voice pitch may function, at least in part, to identify high-quality mates and show that opposite-sex biases in preferences for voice pitch cannot be explained simply by greater general sensitivity to manipulated pitch in opposite-sex voices than in own-sex voices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-62
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • attraction
  • fundamental frequency
  • mate choice
  • mate preference
  • sexual dimorphism
  • sexual selection
  • vocal cue


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