Women are attracted to men with deep voices, but only for a fling: study

O'Connor says she's heard women find David Beckham attractive - until he opens his mouth. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

TORONTO – Broad shoulders, chiselled abs and muscular arms can attract attention from the opposite sex, but it’s a man’s deep voice that helps seal the deal, a new Ontario study suggests.

Women are drawn to men with deep voices, finding them attractive but only for short flings because these male suitors also come off as cheaters, according to the McMaster University study.

The lead author, Dr. Jillian O’Connor, says it all goes back to evolution. In the mating game, our ancestors were looking for the best match to help them make the healthiest babies and look after the family.

“Women like lower-pitched voices because of human evolutionary history. Men who have lower-pitched voices have higher testosterone, they’re more likely to be healthy, dominant, attain high social status. These are all things women find really attractive,” O’Connor told Global News.

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Like a strong body frame, a masculine face and symmetrical features, a low-pitched voice signals a good candidate. It points to larger vocal cords.

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“Voice pitch is a cue as to how good a mate a man is in terms of genetic quality. Lower pitch voices are going to have what we call good genes, and that’s what women are picking up on. They may not know this consciously but they know it subconsciously because they demonstrate it by being attracted to these men,” she said.

O’Connor works in a voice lab in McMaster’s psychology department specializing in researching what people find attractive and what makes partners jealous when they see romantic competitors.

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This research stems from her 2011 findings – in that case, she found that women liked men with deeper voices but at the same time, they thought these men would be more likely to cheat on them. O’Connor and her team were confused by this conundrum and hoped to find some clarity.

This time, she had six men provide voice recordings – they read out the five vowel sounds like, ‘ahh,’ ‘eee,’ and ‘ooo’ – to document their voice pitch. The recordings were then manipulated so there was a version that was 20 hertz higher and another that was 20 hertz lower.

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The women then listened to the high and low manipulations and selected which they preferred. Women liked the deep voice, but if they thought the man would cheat on them, they’d only pick this partner for short-term. If they liked the deep voice and weren’t worried he’d cheat, they’d pick the man as a steady partner to rely on.

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This answered O’Connor’s question: “it’s because the women don’t want (the deep-voiced men) for a long-term relationship, they want them for something shorter, like a single date or a one-night stand.”

“One way to think about this is that masculine men that have deep voices can be seen as the typical bad boy, someone who’s attractive but not going to be a long-term partner,” she said.

She uses Benedict Cumberbatch, Clive Owen and Jon Hamm as examples: masculine men with deep voices that have an aura of a playboy attitude.

O’Connor says she’s heard women are drawn to the way soccer star David Beckham looks, but if they listen to his voice, they change their mind.

“The voice could be a game-changer when it comes to who you’re attracted to,” she said.

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The same link exists with male perception of the opposite sex’s voice, too. Men like high-pitched voices on women but they’re more likely to come off as cheaters. O’Connor says she hopes to find an explanation.

It’s also unknown if men with low-pitched voices are more likely to cheat. This is another aspect O’Connor wants to explore.

Her findings were published Thursday in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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