Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Voters favor deep-voiced politicians

Date:
March 13, 2012
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Candidates with lower-pitched voices may get more votes in the 2012 election. A new study by biologists and a political scientist shows that both men and women prefer political candidates with deeper voices. The results also suggest that biology -- not just partisanship or ideology -- can shape voters' choices.

A "voter" listens to two candidates asking for his support. He'll likely choose the speaker who has the deeper voice.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rindy Anderson, Duke.

Candidates with lower-pitched voices may get more votes in the 2012 election. A new study by biologists and a political scientist shows that both men and women prefer political candidates with deeper voices. The results also suggest that biology -- not just partisanship or ideology -- can shape voters' choices.

"We often make snap judgments about candidates without full knowledge of their policies or positions. These findings might help explain why," said Duke University biologist Rindy Anderson.

"It's clear that our voices carry more information than the words we speak. Knowing this can help us understand the factors that influence our social interactions and possibly why there are fewer women elected to high-level political positions," she said.

To test voters' preference on voice pitch, Anderson, Duke biologist Susan Peters and University of Miami political scientist Casey Klofstad recorded men and women saying, "I urge you to vote for me this November." The scientists then edited each recording to create a higher- and lower-pitched version of the original.

The team played the recordings of the female voices to 37 men and 46 women at the University of Miami, and the male voices to 49 men and 40 women at Duke. They found that both men and women "elected" the candidates with the lower-pitched voices, regardless of the speaker's gender. The results appear in the March 14 Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This research is an "interesting first step toward understanding the psychological mechanisms that affect voters' choices," said Brad Verhulst, a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He was not involved in the study, but says the experiment is an "exciting application" of previous work on the way visual cues affect people's perceptions of candidates and their competence.

Voice pitch can also affect how people perceive a speaker's competence, honesty and strength, according to past research. But no one had applied that connection to voters' preferences for the voices of both male and female candidates, Anderson said.

In a second experiment, Anderson and her colleagues played the same recordings to three groups of 35 men and 35 women and asked the subjects to select which candidate seemed stronger and more trustworthy and competent.

Both men and women tended to perceive lower-pitched female voices to have all three traits. But only male subjects perceived lower-pitched male voices to be stronger and more competent. They may have been tuned into pitch to gauge the speaker's competitiveness and social aggressiveness, Anderson said.

Women, however, may not discriminate strength and competence in male voices because they are tuning into different cues, vocal or otherwise, to evaluate those traits, she said.

But the findings are based on hypothetical elections conducted in the lab, she said.

"We need to be very careful about interpreting these results in a broader context," Anderson said. The findings raise the possibility that, since women tend to have higher-pitched voices than men, their voice could be one of many different factors that influence gender inequality in leadership roles, she said.

This was a carefully controlled study, Verhulst said. But "until the idea is more thoroughly fleshed out, the broader application to real-world politics is still a conjecture," he said.

As a result, Anderson said she and her collaborators plan to test what they have learned in the laboratory in the 2012 elections.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. The original article was written by Ashley Yeager. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. A. Klofstad, R. C. Anderson, S. Peters. Sounds like a winner: voice pitch influences perception of leadership capacity in both men and women. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0311

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Voters favor deep-voiced politicians." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313230602.htm>.
Duke University. (2012, March 13). Voters favor deep-voiced politicians. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313230602.htm
Duke University. "Voters favor deep-voiced politicians." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313230602.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins