A Lower Voice May Indicate Flirting

READING, Pa., May 21 (UPI) — If a man or woman drops his or her voice when speaking they may be flirting, U.S. researchers suggest.

Susan Hughes, an assistant professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa., says, for the most part, flirtation is largely visual, but there is an audio component as well.

Hughes and colleagues examined 48 Albright College students using Skype who recorded scripted voice-messages while viewing a picture of a fictitious person “receiving” the message.

Hughes says she expected women would raise their voices to sound more feminine and attractive, but in the study they did not.

“We found that both sexes used a lower-pitch voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to a more attractive opposite-sex target,” Hughes says in a statement.

“There appears to be a common stereotype in our culture that deems a sexy female voice as one that sounds husky, breathy and lower-pitched — this suggests that the motivation to display a sexy/seductive female voice may conflict with the motivation to sound more feminine.”

A woman who manipulates her voice when attracted to the opposite sex may be learned behavior, Hughes says.

“If people can perceive changes in others’ voices when speaking to attractive individuals, this perception may be adaptive for identifying interested potential mates, detecting partner interest in others, and possible detection of partner infidelity,” Hughes says.

The findings are published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.

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