Vocal and Physiological Changes in Response to the Physical Attractiveness of Conversational Partners

Abstract

We examined how individuals may change their voices when speaking to attractive versus unattractive individuals, and if it were possible for others to perceive these vocal changes. In addition, we examined if any concurrent physiological effects occurred when speaking with individuals who varied in physical attractiveness. We found that both sexes used a lower-pitched voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to the more attractive, opposite-sex target. Furthermore, independent raters evaluated the voice samples directed toward the attractive target (versus the unattractive target) as sounding more pleasant when the two voice samples from the same person presented had a reasonably perceptually noticeable difference in pitch. These findings may have implications for the role voice plays in mate selection and attraction.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank David Osgood and The Summer Albright College Research Experience Program (ACRE) for their support of this research, Rodney Warfield for his assistance in obtaining participants for this study, and Andrea Chapdelaine for helpful comments with analysis.

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Correspondence to Susan M. Hughes.

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Hughes, S.M., Farley, S.D. & Rhodes, B.C. Vocal and Physiological Changes in Response to the Physical Attractiveness of Conversational Partners. J Nonverbal Behav 34, 155–167 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-010-0087-9

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Keywords

  • Vocal changes
  • Attractiveness
  • Voice
  • Physiological responses
  • Romantic attraction