Skip to main content
Log in

The Effects of Average Fundamental Frequency and Variance of Fundamental Frequency on Male Vocal Attractiveness to Women

  • Published:
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This paper employs a cue synthesis experimental method to examine the effects of pitch and intonation on male vocal attractiveness to women. Voices were acoustically manipulated to yield nine combinations of three levels of average fundamental frequency and three levels of variance of fundamental frequency. Strong main effects were obtained for the average fundamental frequency manipulation, with high voices rated as significantly less attractive to women than either medium or low voices, which do not differ in attractiveness. The main effects of manipulations of variance of fundamental frequency on vocal attractiveness and benevolence did not reach significance, but there was a significant interaction on the benevolence factor, with high or low average fundamental frequency manipulations being rated particularly low for voices with low variance of fundamental frequency.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Addington D. W. (1968). The relationship of selected vocal characteristics to personality perception. Speech Monographs, 35, 492–503.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Apple W., Streeter L. A., & Krauss R. M. (1979). Effects of pitch and speech rate on personal attributions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 715–727.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barber N. (1995). The evolutionary psychology of physical attractiveness: Sexual selection and human morphology. Ethology and Sociobiology, 16, 395–424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown B. L. (1980). Effects of speech rate on personality attributions and competency evaluations. In: H. Giles, W. P. Robinson, P. M. Smith (Eds.), Language: Social psychological perspectives: Selected proceedings of the first international conference on social psychology and language held at the University of Bristol, England, July, 1979 (pp. 293–300). Oxford: Pergamon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown B. L., Strong W. J., & Rencher A. C. (1973). Perceptions of personality from speech: Effects of manipulations of acoustical parameters. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 54, 29–35.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brown B. L., Strong W. J., & Rencher A. C. (1974). Fifty-four voices from two: the effects of simultaneous manipulations of rate, mean fundamental frequency, and variance of fundamental frequency on ratings of personality from speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 55, 313–318.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Buss D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Collins S. A. (2000). Men’s voices and women’s choices. Animal Behaviour, 60, 773–780.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dabbs J. M. Jr., & Mallinger A. (1999). High testosterone levels predict low voice pitch among men. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 801–804.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raines R. S., Hechtman S. B., & Rosenthal R. (1990). Physical attractiveness of face and voice: Effects of positivity, dominance, and sex. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 1558–1578.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ray G. B., Ray E. B., & Zahn C. J. (1991). Speech behavior and social evaluation: An examination of medical messages. Communication Quarterly, 2, 47–57.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scherer K. R. (1979a). Personality markers in speech. In: K. R. Scherer & H. Giles (Eds.), Social markers in speech (pp. 147–209). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scherer K. R. (1979b). Voice and speech correlates of perceived social influence in simulated jury. In: H. Giles & R. N. St Clair (Eds.), Language and social psychology (pp. 88–120). Baltimore: University Park Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tuomi S. K., & Fisher J. E. (1979). Characteristics of a simulated sexy voice. Folia Phoniatrica, 31, 242–249.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zuckerman M., & Miyake K. (1993). The attractive voice: What makes it so? Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 17, 119–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zuckerman M., Miyake K., & Elkin C. S. (1995). Effects of attractiveness and maturity of face and voice on interpersonal impressions. Journal of Research in Personality, 29, 253–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Deryle Lonsdale.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Riding, D., Lonsdale, D. & Brown, B. The Effects of Average Fundamental Frequency and Variance of Fundamental Frequency on Male Vocal Attractiveness to Women. J Nonverbal Behav 30, 55–61 (2006).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: