Sex Roles

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Speaking like a Man: Women’s Pitch as a Cue for Gender Stereotyping

  • Barbara KrahéEmail author
  • Lida Papakonstantinou
Original Article


Women’s average voice pitch has decreased in recent years, reducing the gap between men on this vocal dimension. The present study examined whether a woman speaking at a lower pitch would be perceived as less feminine and more masculine than a woman speaking at a higher pitch. Participants (n = 100, 67 female) listened to an audiotape of a woman in which her natural voice was manipulated to represent a pitch of either 220 Hz or 165 Hz. They then rated her on positive and negative facets of masculinity and femininity as well as competence and likeability. In addition, participants’ gendered self-concept was measured to examine potential moderator effects. As predicted, positive masculinity ratings were significantly higher, and positive and negative femininity ratings were significantly lower, in the 165 Hz than in the 220 Hz condition. The woman was also rated as more likeable in the 220 Hz than in the 165 Hz condition. No difference was found for negative masculinity and competence ratings, and no moderation effect of participants’ gendered self-concept emerged. The findings suggest that lower voice pitch is a masculinity cue that elicits stereotyped perceptions of female speakers and may have implications for impression formation in a variety of domains.


Gender stereotypes Voice pitch Masculinity Femininity Likeability 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was conducted in compliance with the regulations of the Institutional Review Board of the authors’ university.

Supplementary material

11199_2019_1041_MOESM1_ESM.docx (9.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 9.10 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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