Voice Correlates of Mating Success in Men: Examining "Contests" Versus "Mate Choice" Modes of Sexual Selection

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.
Archives of Sexual Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.53). 04/2010; 40(3):551-7. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-010-9625-0
Source: PubMed


Men's copulatory success can often be predicted by measuring traits involved in male contests and female choice. Previous research has demonstrated relationships between one such vocal trait in men, mean fundamental frequency (F(0)), and the outcomes and indicators of sexual success with women. The present study investigated the role of another vocal parameter, F(0) variation (the within-subject SD in F(0) across the utterance, F(0)-SD), in predicting men's reported number of female sexual partners in the last year. Male participants (N = 111) competed with another man for a date with a woman. Recorded interactions with the competitor ("competitive recording") and the woman ("courtship recording") were analyzed for five non-linguistic vocal parameters: F(0)-SD, mean F(0), intensity, duration, and formant dispersion (D( f ), an acoustic correlate of vocal tract length), as well as dominant and attractive linguistic content. After controlling for age and attitudes toward uncommitted sex (SOI), lower F(0)-SD (i.e., a more monotone voice) and more dominant linguistic content were strong predictors of the number of past-year sexual partners, whereas mean F(0) and D( f ) did not significantly predict past-year partners. These contrasts have implications for the relative importance of male contests and female choice in shaping men's mating success and hence the origins and maintenance of sexually dimorphic traits in humans.

Download full-text


Available from: David A Puts,
  • Source
    • "Future studies should explore these possibilities. The lack of a relationship between pubertal timing and the PC onto which vocal dominance loaded was unexpected, as evidence indicates that voices have been shaped by sexual selection and contribute to men's dominance and mating success (Puts et al. 2006, 2007, 2012a; Hodges-Simeon et al. 2011; Wolff and Puts 2010). In addition, pubertal hormones influence vocal anatomy and acoustic parameters that contribute to perceptions of men's dominance (Fitch and Giedd 1999; Newman et al. 2000; Harries et al. 1998; Hollien et al. 1994; Titze 2000; Hodges-Simeon et al. 2013, 2014). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In some laboratory rodents, males’ brains and behavior become less sensitive to the organizing effects of androgens across the time window surrounding puberty. Later puberty in human males has also been associated with less male-typical psychology and behavior, such as lower performance on mental rotation tasks and lower risk of substance abuse and delinquency. Here, we propose that life history (LH) theory provides a useful theoretical framework for understanding such relationships between pubertal timing and phenotypic masculinization. Because a faster male LH strategy emphasizes mating over parenting, earlier puberty may lead more generally to greater masculinization of traits that increase in sexual dimorphism at puberty and function in mating competition. In other words, we suggest that decreasing sensitivity to androgens represents a proximate mechanism that facilitates the development of mating-related adaptations in men with fast LH strategies. We tested this hypothesis in 153 men. Consistent with our hypothesis, earlier recalled pubertal timing predicted greater adult male body mass index, facial dominance, biceps circumference, and, to a lesser degree, systemizing and mental rotation ability. Some sexually dimorphic traits that were unrelated to pubertal timing in our data may have been less relevant to our male ancestors’ mating success and hence to a fast LH strategy.
    08/2015; DOI:10.1007/s40750-015-0031-7
  • Source
    • "These results are puzzling, since independent male raters give consistent ratings of dominance using voice clips in the lab (Hodges-Simeon et al. 2010; Puts et al. 2006). Indeed, vocal features predict mating and reproductive success (Apicella et al. 2007; Hodges-Simeon et al. 2011; Puts 2005), and when considering leadership positions such as presidencies, people in laboratory settings vote for candidates with lower-pitched voices (Tigue et al. 2012). One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that, although masculine vocal characteristics such as low pitch produce consistent impressions of dominance among listeners, these impressions are largely false (Collins 2000; Pisanski et al. 2012; Rendall et al. 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have used self-ratings or strangers' ratings to assess men's attractiveness and dominance, attributes that have likely affected men's access to mates throughout human evolution. However, attractiveness and dominance include more than isolated impressions; they incorporate knowledge gained through social interaction. We tested whether dominance and attractiveness assessed by acquaintances can be predicted from (1) strangers' ratings made from facial photographs and vocal clips and (2) self-ratings. Two university social fraternities, their socially affiliated sororities, and independent raters evaluated men's short- and long-term attractiveness, fighting ability, and leadership ability. Ratings made by unfamiliar men using faces, but not voices, predicted acquaintance-rated fighting and leadership ability, whereas ratings made by unfamiliar women from faces and voices predicted acquaintance-rated short- and long-term attractiveness. Except for leadership, self-ratings aligned with peers' evaluations. These findings support the conclusion that faces and voices provide valuable information about dominance and mate quality.
    Human Nature 02/2014; 25(2). DOI:10.1007/s12110-014-9194-3 · 1.96 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "To measure predisposition toward uncommitted sex, we summed the attitudinal and desire components of the SOI-R (Penke & Asendorpf, 2008). Lastly, we used self-reported number of sex partners in the past year (Faurie, Pontier, & Raymond, 2004; Hodges-Simeon et al., 2011) to measure mating success. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although recent research has increasingly focused on human sexual selection, important questions remain concerning the relative influence of individual traits on success in competition for mates and the mechanisms, form and direction of these sexual selective pressures. Here, we explore sexual selection on men’s traits by ascertaining men’s dominance and attractiveness from male and female acquaintances. On a large American university campus, 63 men from two social fraternities provided anthropometric measurements, facial photographs, voice recordings, and reported mating success (number of sexual partners). These men also assessed each other’s dominance, and 72 women from two socially affiliated sororities assessed the men’s attractiveness. We measured facial masculinity from inter-landmark distances and vocal masculinity from acoustic parameters. We additionally obtained facial and vocal attractiveness and dominance ratings from unfamiliar observers. Results indicate that dominance and the traits associated with it predict men’s mating success, but attractiveness and the traits associated with it do not. These findings indicate that male contests strongly influence men’s mating success in this population and suggest that similar conditions may have existed over human evolution.
    Evolution and Human Behavior 05/2013; 34:334-341. DOI:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.05.004 · 3.13 Impact Factor
Show more