Deep-Voiced Men Make Bad Mates: Study

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Men with deeper voices have an advantage in attracting women, but mostly if they’re looking for a fling, new research suggests.

Researchers at at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada have previously reported on the link between the depth of a guy’s voice and his attractiveness to women. They also figured that guys with lower voices, and hence probably more testosterone, were more likely to cheat (they were right). What they couldn’t work out was why women preferred the men who were probably going to be cads. So they went back to the audiotape.

In the new study — which may also provide some insight into why Isaac Hayes songs are forever a popular choice for the boudoir — researchers had women listen to men’s voices and asked them first if they thought the speaker was a faithful sort of guy. Then they were asked if they fancied the owner of the voice for a long or short-term relationship. The deep-voiced men were chosen more often for short term relationships, but mostly by certain sorts of women—those who had already expressed a belief that a bass voice often led to fishy behavior.

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“Differences in the strength of women’s preferences were accounted for by whether or not they thought the voices belonged to a cheater,” says Jillian O’Connor, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster, who was this study’s (and the prior one’s)  lead author. “Women who thought that men with lower pitched voices were cheaters liked them for short-term flings.”  The scientists defined “short-term relationship” more towards the one-night-stand than the May to December fling.

The women who didn’t associate a deep pitch with infidelity tended to prefer those guys for long term relationships. The authors surmised that some women have come to adaptively understand that more macho guys are more likely to cheat — and have thus learned to avoid macho-sounding guys for serious life partnering.

For deep-voiced males, fear not. The study was pretty small, just 87 women, and it didn’t use actual tones. The voices the women heard came from the same guy with his pitch digitally deepened or heightened. Which means the findings probably aren’t conclusive enough to cross off any baritones from anybody’s list of eligible bachelors, even if biology were destiny.

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The lure for a deep voice for females may have something to do with the woman’s biology too. “Some of my other research has found that women who have more attractive faces have stronger preferences for lower pitched men’s voices,” says O’Connor. “But that was not examined in this study.” Looks like men are not the only ones who respond to siren songs.


james earl jones has a deep voice and women want nothing to do w him.  timberlake sounds like a pre-pubescent girl and women love him.  /study


Socially, the men with the deep voice often view themselves as God's gift to women hence their perceived philandering conduct. We still can't ignore the science that says that the bass voiced men have higher a testosterone level which makes them have a higher libido which may lead to cheating. 


@mikeylikeychiptole Finding exceptions to a rule does not disprove a rule.  You could say Mugsy Bogues (5'5") was a good NBA player whereas Darko Milicic (7'0") was not, therefore height has no bearing on playing in the NBA.  That argument, however, would be flawed because you're selecting extreme examples.


@hummingbird Evolutionarily speaking, the notion of "cheating" is a non-factor.  It's all about spreading the superior genes as determined by how attractive one potential mate is to another.  You see it in animals ALL THE TIME.  And only in rare instances do you see fidelity - especially among mammals. 

So the concept of highly attractive for the short-term males getting more mates is an evolutionary mandate.  The fact is, they ARE "God's gift to women" (Or at least nature's) since they are seen as more attractive for the short term than other males, which is all that a male NEEDS to be in order to pass on his genetic heritage to the next generation.

How that impacts society is based entirely on how a society wants to deal with child-rearing.  Humans evolved living in tribes, and by all accounts mostly raised kids communally.  It wasn't until religion came along and paired people up that "cheating" was even much of an issue, let alone a major one.  And from an evolutionary point, it's actually a disadvantage to confine the best genes to one family unit (assuming in-breeding is avoided).

Just remember, nature usually cheats, and it gets along just fine.  It may not jive with what "society" has imposed on us, but most of what we do today is so counter to how we evolved, I don't think we're going to survive long-term anyhow.


@DeweySayenoff @hummingbird  In recent years I've been trying to keep an open mind when it comes to the topic of open marriage/cheating. I look at both sides of the argument: those for it and those against it. You can say that my thinking is evolving to be more understanding/tolerant where this topic is concerned.

When we put it all into historical perspective like you did, we can certainly see that science is on the side of having multiple partners. Some societies eg Africa, Middle East have retained their culture of the man being able to have more than one wife all at the same time. It's the Western culture that has eschewed this notion through its version of Christianity. Hence we get jealousy and the term cheating.

I have seriously thought about how much some men have going for them eg intellect/talent. money, good looks etc and have wondered why such men would want to keep one woman only. I have also wondered why any one woman should have the privilege of having a monopoly on such a highly desirable man. We do see how Nobel Laureates are asked to donate their sperms in hope that it will spawn other brilliant people. Let's face it, we do prefer to have brilliant/talented/athletic people in this world than "so-so people." The only problem with this is that sometimes children don't inherit their parents' exceptional intellect or abilities. 

I appreciate the honest conversation. Thank you.