The Sound of Symmetry Revisited: Subjective and Objective Analyses of Voice

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Abstract

Previous research (Hughes et al. Evolution and Human Behavior 23:173-180, 2002) has shown that ratings of voice attractiveness are negatively correlated to fluctuating asymmetry (FA, a measure of developmental stability and fitness) but are unrelated to the second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D, a measure of prenatal sex hormone exposure). In the present study, we considered ratings of these voices based on a number of other descriptive traits that may be particularly important in mate selection. Men with voices rated as approachable, intelligent, sexy, and warm showed greater bilateral body symmetry. Women with voices rated as approachable, sexy, and most likely to get dates also tended to be more symmetrical. Furthermore, voices rated as dominant and mature were negatively correlated to 2D:4D ratios in women, suggesting an effect of exposure to higher levels of prenatal androgen. Unlike subjective ratings, objective measures of voice obtained through spectrogram analyses did not account for much variance in either symmetry or digit ratios. These findings implicate the perceptual qualities of voice as a salient marker of underlying genetic quality and viability.

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