Sounds Like a Winner: Voice Pitch Influences Perception of Leadership Capacity

20 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2011  

Casey A. Klofstad

University of Miami

Rindy C. Anderson

Duke University

Susan Peters

Duke University

Date Written: November 4, 2011

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Klofstad, Casey A. and Anderson, Rindy C. and Peters, Susan, Sounds Like a Winner: Voice Pitch Influences Perception of Leadership Capacity (November 4, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1954756 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1954756

Casey A. Klofstad (Contact Author)

University of Miami ( email )

Coral Gables, FL 33124
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.as.miami.edu/personal/cklofstad/

Rindy C. Anderson

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Susan Peters

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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