Family Matters

Can Your Mate’s Voice Be a Clue to Potential Cheating?

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We here at Healthland are not trying to cast aspersions on your partner, but if he’s got a really low voice or hers is particularly high-pitched, you might intuitively suspect they’re more likely to cheat on you. And you may be right.

A new study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology links voice pitch with perceived unfaithfulness, bolstering previous research that has shown men with lower-pitched voices have more sexual partners — and more babies. (More on Five Reasons to Get (or Stay) Married This Year)

The research indicates that people may rely on voice pitch as a means of determining who may be likely to stray. “From an evolutionary perspective, if this perception did not benefit our ancestors by helping them choose better mates, then we would not expect it to persist,” says Jillian O’Connor, a graduate student in the department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University in Ontario and lead author of the study.

Researchers rounded up 54 male and 61 female undergraduates and directed them to listen to two recordings of male and female voices whose pitches had been digitally raised and lowered, then choose which voices belonged to people more likely to cheat on their partner. They also asked which voices they found most attractive. (More on Do They Work? 5 Popular Aphrodisiacs)

Here’s the rub: The men with the lowest-pitched voices were deemed by women most likely to cheat — and most attractive. Similarly, men thought women with the highest-pitched voices were foxier and more prone to infidelity.

Part of it’s pure physiology: We know that men with very deep voices and women with high pitches have a greater respective concentration of testosterone and estrogen.

“If these people are more attractive, they’re more likely to be in a relationship,” says David Feinberg, an assistant professor in the department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior and adviser on the study. “Because of their hormones, they’re more likely to be promiscuous. And because they’re more attractive, their partners are more likely to let them get away with it.” (More on Can an iPhone App Save Your Marriage?)

Previously, Feinberg traveled to Tanzania to track the sexual proclivities of the Hadza hunter-gatherer tribe. The Hadza don’t use birth control, so it was the perfect kind of place to examine fidelity. Feinberg found that the lower a man’s voice, the more babies he had — more than one a year, which clued Feinberg in to the likelihood that lower-voiced men were spreading their sperm with abandon.

Now, Canadian college students have confirmed the connection. Potential partners: cute as these deep-voiced darlings — and higher-pitched hotties — may be, consider yourself forewarned.

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