Previous studies have demonstrated that men prefer women's voices with relatively high pitch to those with low pitch, suggesting that men may use voice pitch as a cue of women's mate quality. However, evidence that voice pitch is a cue to women's long-term health is equivocal. Here we present evidence that women's average speaking voice pitch is negatively correlated with a health risk index derived from principle component analysis of various body measurements that are known to predict long-term health outcomes in women (weight, body mass index, percentage body fat, waist and hip circumference, and waist-hip ratio). Our results suggest that voice pitch is a cue to women's long-term health, supporting mate-choice accounts of men's preferences for raised pitch in women's voices.
Although it is well-established that generalized face preferences influence a wide range of social outcomes, little is known about the proximate mechanisms through which such preferences develop. In two experiments we show that preferences for composites of faces that had been seen paired with an aversive auditory stimulus were significantly weaker than preferences for composites of faces that had been seen paired with a relatively neutral auditory stimulus, demonstrating that the valence of participants’ experiences with individual faces influences preferences for novel, physically similar faces. While previous findings for experience with faces on subsequent preferences have emphasized the positive effects of familiarity on attraction to novel, physically similar faces, here we emphasize the effects of the valence of peoples’ experiences and show that negative experiences can decrease preferences for familiar configurations of facial cues.
The degree to which men invest financial resources, time, and effort into pursuing and maintaining relationships may be perceived by women as a cue to that man's suitability as father and a mate. Women's mate preferences are also influenced by cues to underlying heritable mate quality, such as an attractive, masculine voice. Relatively more masculine men may be able to provide heritable benefits to offspring, but masculinity is associated with decreased investment in relationships and offspring. Both individual differences in women's preferences for masculine voices and women's attributions of negative personality traits to masculine men suggests that women may be somewhat aware of the negative associations between men's physical masculinity and relationship/parental investment. In the current study, we found that in general, women perceived feminized men's voices as significantly more likely to invest time and effort, and be financially generous with romantic partners. We also found that women's preferences for masculine voice pitch in a long-term, but not short-term relationship context, were positively related to perceptions of male financial generosity and investment of time and effort in romantic relationships. These perceptions may represent an adaptive heuristic that aids women in selecting long-term mates that are likely to invest in relationships and offspring.
Although humans can raise and lower their voice pitch, it is not known whether such alterations can function to increase the likelihood of attracting preferred mates. Because men find higher-pitched women's voices more attractive, the voice pitch with which women speak to men may depend on the strength of their attraction to those men. Here, we measured voice pitch when women left voicemail messages for masculinized and feminized versions of a prototypical male face. We found that the difference in women's voice pitch between these two conditions positively correlated with the strength of their preference for masculinized versus feminized male faces, whereby women tended to speak with a higher voice pitch to the type of face they found more attractive (masculine or feminine). Speaking with a higher voice pitch when talking to the type of man they find most attractive may function to reduce the amount of mating effort that women expend in order to attract and retain preferred mates.
Recent research suggests that men may possess adaptations that evolved to counter strategic variation in women's preferences for masculine men. For example, women's preferences for masculine, dominant men are stronger during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle than at other times and men demonstrate increased sensitivity to facial cues of male dominance when their partners are ovulating. Such variation in men's dominance perceptions may promote efficient allocation of men's mate guarding effort (i.e., allocate more mate guarding effort in response to masculine, dominant men in situations where women show particularly strong preferences for such men). Here, we tested for further evidence of adaptations that may have evolved to counter strategic variation in women's masculinity preferences. Men who reported having particularly feminine romantic partners demonstrated a greater tendency to attribute dominance to masculinized male faces than did men who reported having relatively masculine romantic partners. This relationship between partner femininity and men's sensitivity to facial cues of male dominance remained significant when we controlled for potential confounds (men's age, self-rated masculinity, reported commitment to their relationship, and the length of the relationship) and may be adaptive given that feminine women demonstrate particularly strong preferences for masculine, dominant men. While previous research has emphasized variation in women's masculinity preferences, our findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that sexual selection may also have shaped adaptations that evolved to counter such systematic variation in women's preferences for masculine, dominant men.