FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Voters prefer male political candidates with a lower-pitched voice because it's seen as a sign of dominance and leadership, according to Canadian researchers.
The researchers manipulated archival recordings of U.S. presidents to create lower- and higher-pitched versions of each voice. The altered recordings were played to volunteers who rated the speakers' leadership potential, honesty, intelligence, dominance and attractiveness.
The volunteers were also asked which versions of the voices would win their vote both in peacetime and wartime.
In all cases, the volunteers preferred the lower-pitched voices, said the team in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The study was published online Nov. 16 in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
"We're looking at men's low voice-pitch as a cue to dominance, which is related to leadership," study lead author and graduate student Cara Tigue said in a university news release.
"Throughout our evolutionary history, it would have been important for our ancestors to pay attention to cues to good leadership, because group leaders affected a person's ability to survive and reproduce within a group. We're looking at it in a present-day, 21st-century context," she explained.
Voice pitch has long been considered a factor in a candidate's success, but the researchers said this is the first study to scientifically test the theory that voters prefer men with lower-pitched voices.
"People think we want to vote for men with lower-pitched voices because they're more attractive, but it's because people perceive them as better leaders and more dominant, not just because they're attractive," said David Feinberg, a psychology professor who supervised the study.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery has tips on caring for your voice.