Sounds Like a Winner: Voice Pitch Influences Perception of Leadership Capacity
20 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 4, 2011
It is well-known that non-human animals respond to information encoded in vocal signals, and the same can be said of humans. Specifically, human voice pitch affects how speakers are perceived. As such, does voice pitch affect how we perceive and select our leaders? To answer this question we recorded men and women saying “I urge you to vote for me this November.” Each recording was manipulated digitally to yield a higher- and lower-pitched version of the original. We then asked men and women to vote for either the lower- or higher-pitched version of each voice. Our results show that both men and women select male and female leaders with lower voices. These findings suggest that because women, on average, have higher-pitched voices than men, voice pitch could be a factor that contributes to fewer women holding leadership roles than men. Importantly, and contrary to our expectations, subjects’ characteristics such as political leanings and views on gender equality did not influence the results. As such, while people are free to make their own choices, our results clearly demonstrate that these choices cannot be understood in isolation from biological influences.
Keywords: perception, voice pitch, leadership, voting
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