Voice Pitch and the Labor Market Success of Male Chief Executive Officers

Evolution & Human Behavior, Forthcoming

Posted: 4 Mar 2013 Last revised: 6 Oct 2015

See all articles by William J. Mayew

William J. Mayew

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Christopher A. Parsons

Foster School of Business, University of Washington

Mohan Venkatachalam

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: March 2, 2013

Abstract

A deep voice is evolutionarily advantageous for males, but does it confer benefit in competition for leadership positions? We study ecologically valid speech from 792 male public-company Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and find that CEOs with deeper voices manage larger companies, and as a result, make more money. After including proxies for other CEO attributes including experience, education and formant position, we document economically significant voice pitch effects. For the median CEO of the median sample firm, an interquartile decrease in voice pitch (22.1 Hz) is associated with a $440 million increase in the size of the firm managed, and in turn, $187 thousand more in annual compensation. Deep voiced CEOs also enjoy longer tenures. Although this is a study of association, the results are consistent with recent experimental predictions suggesting a role for voice pitch in leadership selection and also suggest economically meaningful effects of voice pitch reach the upper echelons of corporate management.

Keywords: voice pitch, dominance, labor market outcomes, biological evolution

Suggested Citation

Mayew, William J. and Parsons, Christopher A. and Venkatachalam, Mohan, Voice Pitch and the Labor Market Success of Male Chief Executive Officers (March 2, 2013). Evolution & Human Behavior, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2020631 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2020631

William J. Mayew (Contact Author)

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

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Christopher A. Parsons

Foster School of Business, University of Washington ( email )

PACCAR HALL
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Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Mohan Venkatachalam

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7859 (Phone)
919-660-7971 (Fax)

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