Stimuli produced by a female speaker with four different voice qualities - modal, girlish, breathy and creaky - were manipulated to have more or less formant dispersion and were rated on four scales (dominance, attractiveness, sexiness and youthfulness) by men and women. Stimuli with less formant dispersion were rated more dominant and those with more dispersed formants were rated as less dominant. Breathy voice and girlish voice were rated more attractive and sexy. Stimuli with a creaky voice were rated less attractive and sexy, as were stimuli with less formant dispersion. Girlish voices and those with greater formant dispersion were rated as more youthful; creaky voices and those with less formant dispersion were rated as less youthful. There were also gender differences in ratings of attractiveness and youthfulness. Our results suggest that women’s voice qualities can affect perceptions of their attractiveness, sexiness and youthfulness. We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of social signaling.
Crystal, D., & Quirk, R. (1964). Systems of prosodic and paralinguistic features in English. The Hague: Mouton.
Crystal, D. (1975). The English tone of voice. London: Edward Arnold.
Daniel, H. J. III, & McCabe, R. B. (1992). Gender differences in the perception of vocal sexiness. In J. v. d. Dennen (Ed.), The nature of the sexes: the sociobiology of sex differences and the 'battle of the sexes' (pp. 55-62). Groningen: Origin Press. doi:
Esposito, C. M., & Khan, S. (2012). Contrastive breathiness across consonants and vowels: A comparative study of Gujarati and White Hmong. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 42(2), 123-143. doi:
Farley, S. D., Hughes, S. M., & LaFayette, J. N. (2013). People will know we are in love: Evidence of differences between vocal samples directed toward lovers and friends. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 37, 123-138. doi:
Feinberg, D. R., Jones, B. C., Law Smith, M. J., Moore, F. R., DeBruine, L. M., Cornwell, R. E., Hillier, S. G., & Perretta, D. I. (2006). Menstrual cycle, trait estrogen level, and masculinity preferences in the human voice. Hormones and Behavior, 49, 215-222. doi:
Feinberg, D. R., Jones, B. C., Little, A. C., Burt, D.M., & Perrett, D. I. (2005). Manipulations of fundamental and formant frequencies influence the attractiveness of human male voices. Animal Behaviour, 69, 561-568. doi:
Fraccaro, P. J., Jones, B. C., Vukovic, J., Smith, F. G., Watkins, C. D., Feinberg, D. R., Little, A. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (2011). Experimental evidence that women speak in a higher voice pitch to men they find attractive. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9, 57-67. doi:
Fraccaro, P. J., O'Connor, J. J. M., Re, D. E., Jones, B. C., DeBruine, L. M., & Feinberg, D. R. (2013). Faking it: Deliberately altered voice pitch and vocal attractiveness. Animal Behaviour, 85, 127-136. doi:
Henton, C.G., & Blandon, R.A.W. (1988) Creak as a sociophonetic marker. In L. Hyman & C. Li (Eds.) Language, speech and mind: studies in honour of Victoria A. Fromkin (pp. 3-29). New York, NY: Routledge.
Hillenbrand, J. M., & Clark, M. J. (2009). The role of f 0 and formant frequencies in distinguishing the voices of men and women. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71, 1150-1166. doi:
Hughes, S. M., Farley, S. D., & Rhodes, B. C. (2010). Vocal and physiological changes in response to the physical attractiveness of conversational partners. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 34, 155-167. doi:
Jones, B. C., Feinberg, D. R., DeBruine, L. M., Little, A. C., Vukovic, J. (2010). A domain-specific opposite-sex bias in human preferences for manipulated voice pitch. Animal Behavior, 79, 57-62. doi:
Ladefoged, P., & Harshman, R. (1979). Formant frequencies and movements of the tongue. In Björn Lindblom and Sven Öhman, (Eds.) Frontiers of Speech Communication Research (25-34). NewYork, NY: Academic Press.
Laver, John. (1980). The phonetic description of voice quality. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics. London: Cambridge University Press.
Mendoza-Denton (2007). Homegirls remembered: Memorializing practices linking language and materiality among California latina/o gang-involved youth. In P. Hodkinson and P. Deicke, Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures, and Tribes (123-147), New York, NY: Routledge. doi:
O'Connor, J. J., Fraccaro, P. J., Pisanski, K., Tigue, C. C., O'Donnell, T. J., & Feinberg, D. R. (2014). Social dialect and men's voice pitch influence women's mate preferences. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(5), 368-375. doi:
Pisanski, K., Mora, E. C., Pisanski, A., Reby, D., Sorokowski, P., Frackowiak, T., & Feinberg, D. R. (2016). Volitional exaggeration of body size through fundamental and formant frequency modulation in humans. Scientific reports, 6, 34389. doi:
Pisanski, K., & Rendall, D. (2011). The prioritization of voice fundamental frequency or formants in listeners’ assessments of speaker size, masculinity, and attractiveness. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 129(4), 2201-2212. doi:
Puts, D. A., Barndt, J. L., Welling, L. L. M., Dawood, K., & Burriss, R. P. (2011). Intrasexual competition among women: Vocal femininity affects perceptions of attractiveness and flirtatiousness. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 111-115. doi:
Puts, D.A., Doll, L.M., & Hill, A.K. (2014) Sexual selection on human voices. In V.A. Weekes-Shackelford and T.K. Shackelford (Eds.), Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Sexual Psychology and Behavior (pp. 69-86). New York, NY: Springer. doi:
Puts, D. A., Hodges, C. R., Cárdenas, R. A., & Gaulin, S. J. C. (2007). Men's voices as dominance signals: vocal fundamental and formant frequencies influence dominance attributions among men. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28, 340-344. doi: