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Low-pitched voices get the votes

Perhaps it was his deep baritone that helped former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with his political career.

by Léo Charbonneau

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According to a new study by researchers at McMaster University, voters prefer candidates with lower-pitched voices.

Men’s low voice-pitch is “a cue to dominance, which is related to leadership,” says graduate student Cara Tigue, lead author of the paper, published online in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. To test voice-related perceptions, the researchers manipulated archival recordings of U.S. presidents, creating lower- and higher-pitched versions of each voice.

They played the altered recordings for test subjects and asked them to rate their perceptions of the speakers’ attractiveness, leadership potential, honesty, intelligence and dominance. They also asked subjects which version of the voice they would prefer to vote for. In all cases they preferred candidates with lower-pitched voices.

While voice-pitch is not the only influence on voters, the researchers say, their study shows it is clearly part of the decision-making process. Earlier research that looked at U.S. presidential candidates between 1960 and 2000 found that in all eight elections, the candidate with the lower voice had won the popular vote.

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