Preferences for very low and very high voice pitch in humans

PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32719. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032719. Epub 2012 Mar 5.


Manipulations of voice pitch have been shown to alter attractiveness ratings, but whether preferences extend to very low or very high voice pitch is unknown. Here, we manipulated voice pitch in averaged men's and women's voices by 2 Hz intervals to create a range of male and female voices speaking monopthong vowel sounds and spanning a range of frequencies from normal to very low and very high pitch. With these voices, we used the method of constant stimuli to measure preferences for voice. Nineteen university students (ages: 20-25) participated in three experiments. On average, men preferred high-pitched women's voices to low-pitched women's voices across all frequencies tested. On average, women preferred men's voices lowered in pitch, but did not prefer very low men's voices. The results of this study may reflect selection pressures for men's and women's voices, and shed light on a perceptual link between voice pitch and vocal attractiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pitch Discrimination
  • Pitch Perception*
  • Sex Factors
  • Voice / physiology*
  • Young Adult