(Telegraph) Women can spot the sound of flirtatious rivals
Women can tell from other women’s voices how much of a threat they pose to their relationships, anthropologists have claimed.
In a study, men who were played recordings of a range of women’s voices judged those with higher-pitched tones the most attractive – especially when asked to choose who they would favour for a one-night stand.
When women listened to the same range of voices, they accurately predicted which would be the most appealing to the men.
The researchers, at Pennsylvania State University, believe that higher voices in women may have evolved to sound youthful, flirty and attractive to prospective partners.
“These results support our prediction that women use vocal characteristics to track the threat potential of their competitors,” said Dr David Puts, the anthropologist who led the study.
“They shed new light on how men choose and women compete for mates. We found that women were most threatened by a high, youthful-sounding voice in another woman.”
According to the researchers, actresses such as Renee Zellweger and Jennifer Tilly have the kind of voices that men would find attractive and women would find threatening.
The findings, reported in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, suggest that women’s high voices may signal youth and fertility to men who are listening, in the same way that men’s deep voices are believed to signal dominance.
“Because men prefer feminine voices, one might also expect that women vying for the attentions of men would elevate vocal femininity by raising the pitch and timbre of their voices,” the researchers add.