Faking it: deliberately altered voice pitch and vocal attractiveness

Paul J. Fraccaro, Jillian J.M. O'Connor, Daniel E. Re, Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. DeBruine, David R. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has shown that men prefer higher-pitched women's voices and women prefer lower-pitched men's voices. However, both men and women can modulate their voice pitch, which can affect others' perceptions of the voice. Here we tested whether deliberate pitch changes affect speakers' vocal attractiveness. Our results suggest that deliberately exaggerating sex-typical voice pitch (i.e. lowering pitch in men and raising pitch in women) does not necessarily increase vocal attractiveness but that exaggerating sex-atypical voice pitch (i.e. raising pitch in men and lowering pitch in women) may decrease vocal attractiveness. By contrast with these findings for attractiveness, listeners interpreted lowered-pitch voices as sounding more dominant than habitually pitched voices in same-sex voices, which may aid in avoiding the costs associated with intrasexual competition. These findings suggest that the way humans perceive deliberate manipulations of voice pitch can mitigate the potential costs of using an alterable cue to assess attractiveness, and that functional honesty may only evolve in domains where such honesty would be favourable to perceivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • functional honesty
  • honest signal
  • vocal attractiveness
  • vocal dominance
  • voice pitch


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