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Women's voice attractiveness varies across the menstrual cycle

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We investigated ratings of female voice attractiveness as a function of menstrual cycle phase. Women had their voices recorded at four different times during their menstrual cycle. Voice samples were categorized from low to high conception risk based on menstrual cycle phase and empirical pregnancy data. Results showed a significant increase in voice attractiveness ratings as the risk of conception increased across the menstrual cycle in naturally cycling women. There was no effect for women using hormonal contraceptives. Previous research shows that the sound of a person's voice appears to serve as an honest signal of fitness, and our results show perceptual shifts in women's voices that match the predicted output of an independent and well-designed fertility monitoring system. More work is needed to identify the biological mechanisms that underlie these perceptual differences, but growing evidence points to the impact of hormones on the larynx as being the source of these changes.
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Original Article
Women's voice attractiveness varies across the menstrual cycle
R. Nathan Pipitone, Gordon G. Gallup Jr
Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, New York, NY, USA
Initial receipt 24 July 2007; final revision received 17 February 2008
Abstract
We investigated ratings of female voice attractiveness as a function of menstrual cycle phase. Women had their voices recorded at four
different times during their menstrual cycle. Voice samples were categorized from low to high conception risk based on menstrual cycle phase
and empirical pregnancy data. Results showed a significant increase in voice attractiveness ratings as the risk of conception increased across
the menstrual cycle in naturally cycling women. There was no effect for women using hormonal contraceptives. Previous research shows that
the sound of a person's voice appears to serve as an honest signal of fitness, and our results show perceptual shifts in women's voices that
match the predicted output of an independent and well-designed fertility monitoring system. More work is needed to identify the biological
mechanisms that underlie these perceptual differences, but growing evidence points to the impact of hormones on the larynx as being the
source of these changes.
© 2008 Published by Elsevier Inc.
Keywords: Voice attractiveness; Conception risk; Hormonal contraceptives; Menstrual cycle; Ovulation
1. Introduction
Research on the human voice has been subject to
increased attention in recent years. Variation in dominance
(Feinberg et al., 2006; Puts, Gaulin, & Verdonili, 2006),
personality attributes (Zuckerman & Driver, 1989), fluctuat-
ing asymmetry (Hughes, Harrison, & Gallup, 2002),
attractive body features (Hughes, Dispenza, & Gallup,
2004) and a host of other behavioral characteristics have
been shown to correlate with variation in the sound of a
person's voice. In other words, independent of the content of
speech, voice appears to be a medium for the transmission of
important biological information.
The human larynx is a hormonal steroid target organ
(Caruso et al., 2000). During puberty, estrogen and
progesterone affect the morphology of the larynx and
shape the mature female voice, while testosterone modifies
and deepens the male voice (Abitbol, Abitbol, & Abitbol,
1999). The same sex hormones that affect the voice at
puberty also influence the development of sex-specific body
configurations (Kasperk et al., 1997; Singh, 1993).
Just as physical characteristics like facial features may be
involved in mate choice (Thornhill & Gangestad, 1999),
vocal cues may also be important, especially since they can
provide information about potential mates when visual cues
are ambiguous or not available, such as at night (Hughes
et al., 2002). Recent evidence shows that the sound of a
person's voice not only provides information about body
morphology, but also about features of their sexual behavior
as well (Hughes et al., 2004).
Cyclic hormones affect the physical properties of a
woman's voice across the menstrual cycle (Abitbol et al.,
1999). Variations in female vocal production that occur
during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause (Caruso
et al., 2000) all coincide with marked hormonal changes.
Epithelial smears from the larynx and vagina show similar
cytology for steroid hormones (Caruso et al., 2000),
particularly estrogen (Fegusson, Hudson, & McCarthy,
1987). Histologic laryngeal changes during the menstrual
cycle mirror those of the endometrium (Abitbol et al., 1999).
The use of hormonal contraceptives also has an effect on
female vocal production. Investigating these changes
Evolution and Human Behavior xx (2008) xxx xxx
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 518 442 4786; fax: +1 518 442 4867.
E-mail address: rp2497@albany.edu (R.N. Pipitone).
1090-5138/$ see front matter © 2008 Published by Elsevier Inc.
doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.02.001
ARTICLE IN PRESS
through spectrogram analysis, Amir, Kishon-Rabin and
Muchnik (2002) found that females using hormonal contra-
ceptives had significantly lower jitter and shimmer in their
voices than naturally cycling females. Chae, Choi, Kang,
Choi and Jin (2001) showed that females experiencing
premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which corresponds to
hormonal aberrations, were also more prone to vocal changes
(e.g., more jitter, lower frequency) compared to other times
during the menstrual cycle. G. Bryant and M. Haselton
(unpublished data) have also recently reported preliminary
evidence for an increase in voice pitch at ovulation compared
to other times during the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone increases the viscosity and acidity levels
of glandular laryngeal cells, which leads to a decrease in
volume, causing vocal cord edema. Estrogen has a
hypertrophic effect on laryngeal mucus and increases
glandular cell secretion (Abitbol et al., 1999; Amir et al.,
2002). Abitbol (1989) and Abitbol et al. (1999) have
identified vocal characteristics such as hoarseness, fatigue
and decreases in range as being clinical signs of vocal
PMS. In summary, the larynx and genitals clearly seem
to be targets for the same sex hormones, and both seem
to be affected by hormonal fluctuations across the
menstrual cycle.
A number of adaptive behaviors vary across the
menstrual cycle that correspond to changes in conception
risk. Sexual risk-taking behaviors (Chavenne & Gallup,
1998), reactions to the scent of more symmetrical males
(Gangestad & Thornhill, 1998) and preference for more
masculine facial features (Penton-Voak & Perrett, 2000)
have all been shown to vary as a function of cycle phase.
It is reasonable to suppose that the cyclic hormones
driving these behaviors could also affect women's voices
as well.
In the present study, we investigated attractiveness ratings
of female voices collected at different points during the
menstrual cycle.
2. Methods
2.1. Voice participants
A total of 51 female undergraduates from the State
University of New York at Albany were recruited to provide
voice samples. Students were recruited through the research
subject pool and by advertisements posted around campus.
Participants recruited through the research pool were given
course credit; those recruited by posters were paid US$2.50
for each voice session they participated in. The study was
approved by the university Institutional Review Board.
Using a coded anonymous survey, participants were
asked about their age, number of committed partners and
number of lifetime sexual partners. There were no significant
differences between females using hormonal contraceptives
and naturally cycling females for number of committed
partners (t
35
=.24, p=.81), or number of sexual partners
(t
36
=.86, p=.39). Naturally cycling females were between
17 and 30 years of age (mean=21.12, S.D.=3.16), and their
cycle length ranged from 19 to 48 days (mean=29.59,
S.D.=7.12). All females were asked to report whether their
menstrual cycle was regular, somewhat regular, somewhat
irregular or very irregular (regularity was defined as the
number of days between periods being the same from cycle to
cycle, e.g., every 28 days). The majority of females reported
having either somewhat regular or regular cycles. All females
except three met the criterion of reporting somewhat regular
or regular cycles and were included in the analyses. Two
females had atypical cycle lengths but reported having
regular cycles. Upon returning for follow-up voice samples,
we were able to verify that menstruation did happen on the
days predicted for these females; therefore, they were
included in analyses. One naturally cycling female had
used a form of hormonal contraceptive 3 months prior to the
study. All other naturally cycling females indicated not
having used hormonal contraceptives for more than 3 months
prior to this study.
Females taking hormonal contraceptives ranged from 18
to 26 years of age (mean=20.19, S.D.=2.09), and their cycle
length ranged from 24 to 34 days (mean=27.86, S.D.=1.8).
One participant started using hormonal contraceptives 2
months prior to the study. All others had been using
hormonal contraceptive for longer periods of time. Partici-
pants were not included in the analysis if they were not fluent
in English, had speech impediments, were chronic smokers
(more than a pack a week), had a cold or illness on the day of
voice recording, had very irregular menstrual cycles, were
pregnant or used any form of morning-after pill within the
last 3 months. Thirteen women were excluded for these
reasons, leaving 17 naturally cycling females and 21 females
using hormonal contraceptives.
2.2. Voice raters
An additional 34 males and 32 females were recruited
through the university research subject pool to rate the voice
recordings. Raters ranged from 17 to 25 years of age. All
raters reported being heterosexual. Raters all reported having
normal hearing. Six raters handed in incomplete rating forms
and were not included in the analysis, leaving 30 male and 30
female raters.
2.3. Procedures female voice recordings
The initial session consisted of two parts: completion of a
background survey (menstrual cycle length and regularity,
use of hormonal contraceptives, etc.), and a voice sample.
To preclude the possibility that the content of what
participants said could influence the perception of their
voices, subject's voices were only recorded while they
counted from 1 to 10. This procedure has been used
previously to hold the content of recordings constant and to
obtain speech samples that are cognitively and affectively
neutral (Hughes et al., 2002, 2004). Voice recordings were
2R.N. Pipitone, G.G. Gallup Jr / Evolution and Human Behavior xx (2008) xxxxxx
ARTICLE IN PRESS
taken using an Altec Lansing AHS515 headset, with the
microphone placed approximately 8 cm from the subject's
mouth. Voices were recorded onto computer software at 48
kHz, 16 bit, mono (Microsoft Sound Recorder 5.0). After the
initial voice recording, participants were scheduled to return
for three follow-up voice recording sessions depending on
their menstrual cycle length. For example, if a female
indicated having a cycle length of 28 days, she would be
instructed to return every 7 days, but if she indicated having
a 35-day cycle, she would be asked to return every 9 days.
Thus we attempted to obtain a total of four equally spaced
voice recordings across every female's menstrual cycle.
Other studies investigating behavior across the menstrual
cycle have often dichotomized females into high and low
conception groups (i.e., Feinberg et al., 2006; Haselton &
Gangestad, 2006; Penton-Voak & Perrett, 2000). With the
average menstrual cycle length being around 28 days, we
chose four, weekly spaced follow-up voice sessions that
would enable us to map effects within groups, but would not
burden the participants with excessive requirements for
return visits.
All participants provided information about the first day of
their last menstruation and their average cycle length. Since our
subjects returned to give follow-up voice samples, we were able
to verify whether they did begin menstruation on the day
calculated from the initial voice recording session. As evidence
that our estimates were accurate, menstruation began within 1
or 2 days of our calculations for the majority (87%) of females.
If subjects had a shortened or delayed onset of their next
menstrual flow (meaning shorter or longer cycle length), we
adjusted the projected length of the subject's cycle in order to
provide a more accurate estimate of where they were in their
menstrual cycle when voice samples were obtained.
2.4. Procedures voice ratings
The entire stimulus set was too large to have each rater
listen to all 152 voice samples from the 38 females. Raters
were divided into two groups: one group (14 males, 14
females) listened to each of four different voice recordings
from 20 females (10 naturally cycling and 10 taking
hormonal contraceptives), the other group (16 males, 16
females) listened to the four different voice recordings from
the remaining 18 females (7 naturally cycling and 11 taking
hormonal contraceptives). Raters were asked to rate the level
of voice attractiveness on a 100-point unlabelled scale, with
1 being the least attractive and 100 being the most attractive.
The presentation of voice recordings was randomized and
each voice was presented only once unless a rater asked to
hear the voice again. Subjects were instructed not to rate any
voices they thought they recognized. After the completion
of the study, raters were informed that they heard four
different versions of each female's voice. Only two raters
indicated being aware of this, suggesting that for the most
part raters were oblivious to hearing repeated versions of the
same voice.
2.5. Conception risk calculations
Since each voice sample coincided with a particular day
in the subject's menstrual cycle, we calculated conception
risks for each of the four voice samples obtained from each
female using empirical pregnancy rates derived from
Wilcox, Dunson, Weinberg, Trussell and Baird (2001).
Conception risk is the probability of conceiving from a
single act of unprotected sexual intercourse. The closer a
female is to ovulation, the greater the risk of conception
(obviously females who were taking hormonal contra-
ceptives would not be subject to changes in conception
risk, but for purposes of comparison their data were
organized according to their cycle phase as though they
were normally cycling). For instance, according to Wilcox
et al., a regularly cycling female has a 9.3% chance of
conceiving from having unprotected sexual intercourse on
Day 13 of her menstrual cycle and a 0.5% chance on Day
28. With the Puts (2006) methodology, females who had
cycle lengths other than 28 days were standardized into a
28-day cycle and conception risks were calculated accord-
ing to the variation that occurred during the follicular phase
of the menstrual cycle.
2.6. Data organization and analysis
After all of the voices had been rated, the dataset was
organized for planned comparison contrasts. Female's voice
samples were arranged in order from lowest to highest risk of
conception. Phase 1 represents voices that were recorded at
the lowest risk of conception, and Phase 4 represents those
obtained at the highest risk of conception, with Phases 2 and
3 corresponding to intermediate levels of conception risk. In
the initial analysis, we collapsed across voices, yielding four
composite scores for all of the voices that each rater heard at
each of the four different phases. This was done separately
for the naturally cycling females and those using hormonal
contraceptives. In a subsequent analysis, we collapsed across
raters rather than voices in order to conduct additional
analyses on voice attractiveness, yielding average ratings
across raters for each female voice. The average risk of
conception for all females across the four phases was 0.25%
(S.D.=.25%), 0.97% (S.D.=.68%), 3.04% (S.D.=1.37%) and
7.84 % (S.D.=1.83%), respectively.
A 2×4 repeated measures MANOVA was used to
analyze the data. The first factor was hormonal contra-
ceptive use: naturally cycling or hormonal contraceptives.
The second factor was phase: the four different voice
samples from females collected at different times across the
menstrual cycle.
3. Results
Initial data screening revealed no univariate Zscore
outliers among the voice samples. With a critical chi-square
value of 24.32 (df =7, pb.001) for Mahalanobis distance
3R.N. Pipitone, G.G. Gallup Jr / Evolution and Human Behavior xx (2008) xxxxxx
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(Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007), no multivariate outliers were
found. For Cook's distance (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007), all
cases fell within the acceptable range of 0 and 1. Before
collapsing across voices, there were several missing data
points in both groups for five raters. In order to include their
ratings in subsequent analyses, the mean attractiveness rating
that other raters gave the same voice was substituted for the
missing data.
The Contraceptive Use by Phase interaction was signi-
ficant (Wilks' F
3,56
=12.14, pb.001). As shown in Fig. 1,
ratings of voice attractiveness for naturally cycling females
increased as the risk of conception increased. However, there
was no effect of voice attractiveness and menstrual cycle
phase for females taking hormonal contraceptives. No other
omnibus tests were considered since planned comparisons
were the focus of interest (Tabachnick, & Fidell, 2007).
A priori trend analysis contrasts were conducted to
identify trends in vocal attractiveness ratings in each of the
simple main effects of phase, moving from lowest to highest
conception risk. Trend analysis was used because of the
quantitative nature of conception risk as an independent
variable. Since conception risk for females was not the same
when moving from low to high conception risk across the
groups, the polynomial coefficient weights matched the
varying, monotonic increases in conception risk. The voice
attractiveness rating trend as a function of conception risk
among naturally cycling females was significant
(F
1,58
=41.95, pb.001). The partial eta
2
(η
2
), which is a
measure of effect size in MANOVA, showed that 42% of the
variance in the ratings of vocal attractiveness could be
explained in an increasing fashion moving from low to high
conception risk in females who were naturally cycling.
The trend among females who were using hormonal
contraceptives was not significant (F
1,58
=1.48, p=.229,
partialη
2
=.02) (see Fig. 1). Since we predicted a priori the
best-fitting weights for the trend derived from calculated
conception risks, the higher order polynomial contrasts such
as quadratic and cubic functions were not of interest (Myers
& Well, 2003, p. 280). There were no significant sex
differences between male and female raters (F
1,58
=1.15,
p=.289). Naturally cycling females had higher voice
attractiveness ratings than those using hormonal contra-
ceptives when collapsed across phases, but the difference
was not significant (F
1,58
=.69, p=.409).
We also conducted stepwise post hoc comparisons on
each of the mean voice attractiveness ratings using
Hochberg's step-up method, which organizes mean compar-
ison pvalues from largest to smallest, then adjusts error rates
sequentially to keep the familywise error rate constant, in this
instance .05 (see Myers & Well, 2003, p. 247). The results
are presented in Tab l e 1 and show that none of the phase
comparisons for women using hormonal contraceptives was
significant, while five out of the six phase comparisons for
naturally cycling females were significantly different.
As further evidence that the perceptual features of female
voices vary as a function of cycle phase, the correlation
between conception risk and the average rank-ordered voice
attractiveness ratings from each rater was significant for
naturally cycling females (r=.41, pb.01), but not for those
taking hormonal contraceptives.
In a subsequent analysis, we collapsed attractiveness
ratings across raters and ran trend analyses among females
who were naturally cycling and those using hormonal
contraceptives, focusing on individual female voices as the
level of analysis, not raters. Comparable effects were found
whether collapsing on voices or raters. The Contraceptive
Use by Phase interaction was significant [Wilks' F
3,14
=4.72,
Fig. 1. Mean voice attractiveness ratings as a function of conception risk in
naturally cycling women and those taking hormonal contraceptives (females
taking hormonal contraceptives are not at risk of conception, but for
purposes of comparison their voices were analyzed according to comparable
points in the menstrual cycle). Means and standard errors for naturally
cycling women (from lowest to highest likelihood to conceive) were
42.45±1.56, 44.1±1.18, 46.12±1.2 and 48.39±1.38; for women who were
taking hormonal contraceptives, they were 43.4±1.2, 45.15±1.13, 44.89±1.42
and 43.41±1.2.
Table 1
Hochberg's step-up post hoc comparisons in naturally cycling females and
those taking hormonal contraceptives
Phase
comparisons
Mean
difference
Adjusted
error rate
Pvalue Cohen's d
Natural cycling
121.645 .05 .076 .23
342.265 .025 .016 .32
232.031 .0167 .007 .36
133.676 .0125 .001 .43
244.296 .01 b.001.66
145.94 .008 b.001.79
Hormone contraceptives
14.012 .05 .987 b.01
23 .26 .025 .756 .04
34 1.487 .0167 .064 .24
131.499 .0125 .057 .25
121.759 .01 .021 .31
24 1.747 .008 .011 .34
Indicates significant effect compared to adjusted error rate.
4R.N. Pipitone, G.G. Gallup Jr / Evolution and Human Behavior xx (2008) xxxxxx
ARTICLE IN PRESS
pb.05 (since there were more females using hormonal
contraceptives, in order to compute the interaction with equal
n's we randomly excluded four females in the hormonal
contraceptive group)]. The trend was also significant for
naturally cycling females (F
1,16
=9.18, pb.01, partial
η
2
=.36), but not for females using hormonal contraceptives
(F
1,16
=.82, p=.38, partial η
2
=.05).
4. Discussion
Students listening to women count from 1 to 10 at
different times during the menstrual cycle rated the voices as
being more attractive as the speaker's risk of conception
increased. This increase in vocal attractiveness was only
found for females who were naturally cycling. There were no
menstrual cycle effects on voice attractiveness ratings for
those taking hormonal contraceptives.
Consistent with the findings of Hughes et al. (2002)
concerning voice and fluctuating asymmetry where there
were no sex differences in ratings of voice attractiveness, we
also found no differences in how males and females rated
voices as a function of where the speakers were in their
menstrual cycle. Had more targeted questions been asked
such as, rate this voice for sexual attractiveness,or how
likely would you be to date or have sex with this person,it is
possible that sex differences might have emerged. For
example, the correlations between voice attractiveness
ratings by members of the opposite sex and different aspects
of the speaker's sexual behavior are higher than same sex
ratings (Hughes et al., 2004). Females also rate feminized
voices of other females as more attractive than masculinized
voices (Feinberg et al., 2006). When rating male voices,
females prefer those lower in pitch (Collins, 2000),
especially when they are near ovulation (Feinberg et al.,
2006; Puts, 2005). Males, on the other hand, judge male
voices that are lower in pitch as being more dominant (Puts
et al., 2006; Puts, Hodges, Cárdenas, & Gaulin, 2007).
However, both sexes rate male and female voices as more
attractive if they are collected from speakers who have
pronounced sex-specific body configurations (Hughes et al.,
2004). Clearly under certain circumstances both sexes are
discerning of same/opposite sex vocal cues, albeit for
different reasons. Puts et al. (2006) argue that males can
distinguish vocal dominance cues from other males because
of malemale intrasexual competition.
Although raters preferred voice samples taken from
females who were closer to ovulation, the physical properties
of voice that mediate these effects remain unclear. Abitbol
et al. have identified physical features of women's voices
that change with the PMS (Abitbol et al., 1989; Abitbol et al.,
1999). Collins and Missing (2003) found that female voices
higher in frequency were rated as more attractive and
younger, whereas lower frequency voices were rated as
being less attractive and older. Chae et al. (2001) found that
vocal parameters in most of the women in their study who
experienced PMS showed an increase in jitter and slightly
lower frequency compared to other times during the
menstrual cycle. Vocal cord edema produces a decrease in
vocal frequency, causes antiproliferative effects on mucosa
and increases the viscosity and acidity of cellular secretions
which frequently occur around menstruation and are
thought to be driven by higher progesterone and lower
estrogen levels (Abitbol et al., 1999; Amir et al., 2002).
Consistent with this, recent evidence suggests that funda-
mental frequency in female voices may be higher at
ovulation compared to other times during the menstrual
cycle (Bryant, G., & Haselton, M., unpublished data),
suggesting that fundamental frequency may be one
component of attractiveness.
Puberty (Abitbol et al., 1999) and menopause (Caruso et
al., 2000) affect vocal production. The evidence suggests that
the impact of hormones across the menstrual cycle might
drive vocal changes and perceptual features of voice, but
more research is needed. Premenstrual syndrome and the
more psychologically detrimental premenstrual dysphoric
disorder occur during the luteal phase just before menstrua-
tion, when progesterone is highest. These disorders are
thought to be dependent on the menstrual cycle and are
disabling both behaviorally and emotionally (Indusekhar,
Usman & O'Brien, 2007). Because of potential hormonal
influences on mood, female voices recorded close to
ovulation might actually seem more prosocial or interactive
compared to voice recordings that were closer to menstrua-
tion, which in turn could be driving the perceptual
differences obtained in our study.
Our data interpretation is limited to perceptual effects. We
did not perform acoustic analyses (i.e., spectrogram analysis)
on our voice data. From the perspective of evolutionary
theory, we were principally interested in whether people
could detect differences. In trying to pinpoint the physical
parameters of voice attractiveness using spectrogram
analysis, Hughes, Pastizzo and Gallup (in press) have
recently failed to find a substantial number of parametric
differences between attractive and unattractive voices.
Hughes et al. attribute the lack of acoustical correlates in
their study as evidence for highly evolved modules in the
human brain that conduct a more complicated and/or more
efficient assessment of voice than what contemporary
acoustic computer software provides.
A number of behaviors vary across the menstrual cycle in
relationship to conception risk (e.g., Chavenne & Gallup,
1998; Gangestad & Thornhill, 1998; Penton-Voak & Perrett,
2000). Most studies focus on how females may be affected
by their menstrual cycle (e.g., Feinberg et al., 2006; Puts,
2005, 2006), and less attention has focused on how people's
judgments vary as a function of the target female's cycle
phase. Recent evidence, however, suggests that men may
adjust their mate guarding strategies depending on their
partner's cycle (Haselton & Gangestad, 2006), and our data
suggest that the sound of a woman's voice may also change
as a function of her menstrual cycle phase.
5R.N. Pipitone, G.G. Gallup Jr / Evolution and Human Behavior xx (2008) xxxxxx
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Consistent with our findings, it has been shown that male
macaque monkeys distinguish and prefer female vocal calls
made in estrus, compared to nonfertile calls (Semple &
McComb, 2000). The basic underlying anatomy, acoustics
and central control over vocal tracts are similar between
humans and other mammals (Fitch, 2000) implying that our
findings may not be unique to humans.
Unlike visual cues, vocal communication is light inde-
pendent (Gallup & Cameron, 1992). Patterns of nocturnal
copulation are common among humans the world over (Ford
& Beach, 1951). During daylight, vocal cues probably
compliment other sensory domains when it comes to mate
selection and the timing of copulation relative to changes in
the probability of conception. Collins and Missing (2003) and
Johnstone (1995) refer to this as back up signalingor
multiple messagesof overall fitness. How important vocal
cues are compared to other sensory domains remains unclear,
but in the absence of other cues the evidence suggests that the
human vocal tract is a medium that provides cues about many
biologically/reproductively relevant features. Not only are
fluctuating asymmetry and body configuration conveyed
through voice, but significant differences in sexual behavior
can also be accounted for by the sound of someone's voice
(see Hughes et al., 2002, 2004).
In support of the hypothesis that voice is a medium for
conveying important fitness and mate assessment cues, our
data show that voice varies as a function of fertility in
females and ratings of voice attractiveness peak during the
ovulatory phase. These results showing that ratings of female
voices vary as a function of menstrual cycle-induced changes
in fertility may, along with other changes, help explain recent
findings showing that lap dancers make significantly more
tip revenue when they are in midcycle (Miller, Tybur, &
Jordan, 2007).
Acknowledgments
The authors thank Holly Krohel and Nicole Miklos for
assistance in data collection, and members of the Human
Behavior and Evolution Laboratory for suggestions through-
out this project. We also thank Barbara Wilkinson for
assistance with design and analysis, and the editor for helpful
comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
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ARTICLE IN PRESS
... The menstrual cycle can affect speech in complex ways. Most of the research available shows that the specific phases of the menstrual cycle can be associated with voice quality changes (Abitbol et al., 1989(Abitbol et al., , 1999Pipitone & Gallup, 2008;Raj et al., 2008), which are however not observed in females on contraceptives (Pipitone & Gallup, 2008). A limited number of studies nevertheless also shows that even phonatory events involved in the implementation of phonological contrasts can be affected (Hejná, 2019;Wadnerkar et al., 2006;Whiteside et al., 2004). ...
... The menstrual cycle can affect speech in complex ways. Most of the research available shows that the specific phases of the menstrual cycle can be associated with voice quality changes (Abitbol et al., 1989(Abitbol et al., , 1999Pipitone & Gallup, 2008;Raj et al., 2008), which are however not observed in females on contraceptives (Pipitone & Gallup, 2008). A limited number of studies nevertheless also shows that even phonatory events involved in the implementation of phonological contrasts can be affected (Hejná, 2019;Wadnerkar et al., 2006;Whiteside et al., 2004). ...
... Here, we noted that for females, adulthood entails several events that can be seen as doubly age-graded: the menstrual cycle characterises a portion of the female individual's lifespan, but also contains several micro-events that change the hormonal levels of that individual's body, and also potentially affects their speech. However, both the reproductive period itself and certain portions of the menstrual cycle have implications for a female's perceived attractiveness (Pipitone & Gallup, 2008), and the same can be claimed -and even to a greater extent -about changes associated with the menopause. Both these aspects of a female's adulthood thus have the ability to influence their social persona. ...
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The theory of language change has worked primarily with four basic language change profiles: generational change, age‐grading, communal change, and stability. This paper focuses primarily on age‐grading, the process whereby each generation undergoes a specific language change at the same age‐related stage within their lifespan. Despite the necessary influence of biological change on the ageing body, the explanations put forward to explain why and how age‐grading occurs have been primarily social. Previous work also often relies on the study of adolescents. Following the distinction between chronological, social, and biological ageing, this study provides an overview of biological factors which may also provide explanatory power, with a focus on phonetic variation. Considering biological factors can be important in order to avoid interpreting cases of biological age‐grading as (solely) social in nature, and as cases of generational change rather than age‐grading.
... perceptual changes in female voice during different phases of the menstrual cycle. [7][8][9] The studies have revealed that the attractiveness of the female voice changes during the phases of the menstruation cycle. The researchers have even documented the lowest and highest voice attractiveness ratings during the menstrual phase [8] and fertile phases [7,9] of the menstrual cycle, respectively. ...
... [7][8][9] The studies have revealed that the attractiveness of the female voice changes during the phases of the menstruation cycle. The researchers have even documented the lowest and highest voice attractiveness ratings during the menstrual phase [8] and fertile phases [7,9] of the menstrual cycle, respectively. Therefore, past studies have concluded that the vocal changes during the phases of a menstrual cycle can provide a valuable source of information identical to the data on women's fertility. ...
... A number of studies have shown that vocal attractiveness is higher during a woman's fertile phase. Voices recorded during a women's fertile phase are rated as more attractive compared to voices recorded in the non-fertile phase (Çelik et al., 2013;Karthikeyan & Locke, 2015;Pipitone & Gallup, 2008;Puts et al., 2013;Shoup-Knox & Pipitone, 2015). The lowest ratings were found for voices recorded during the menstrual phase (Pipitone & Gallup, 2012). ...
... Because voice attractiveness is higher during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle (e.g., Bryant & Haselton, 2009;Çelik et al., 2013;Karthikeyan & Locke, 2015;Pipitone & Gallup, 2008;Puts et al., 2013;Shoup-Knox & Pipitone, 2015), and voice pitch positively predicts attractiveness ratings (e.g., Apicella & Feinberg, 2009;Borkowska & Pawlowski, 2011;Collins & Missing, 2003;Feinberg et al., 2008;Pisanski & Rendall, 2011;Pisanski et al., 2012), it has been hypothesized that pitch increases during the fertile phase, thereby increasing voice attractiveness. However, attempts to detect these changes have yielded mixed results. ...
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Objective Research has demonstrated that men prefer women’s voices with higher pitch and that women’s voices recorded at high compared to low fertility phases of the menstrual cycle are rated as more attractive. These findings suggest that voice conveys information relevant to reproductive success. Because voice attractiveness is higher during the high fertility phase and voice pitch positively predicts attractiveness ratings, it has been hypothesized that cyclical changes in vocal attractiveness are driven by changes in voice pitch. However, attempts to detect acoustic changes have produced mixed results. With the higher degree of ecological validity achieved by including social context (simulated interactions with men and women) and by recording voice in the three phases of menstrual cycles, the present study addresses limitations of previous research. Methods Forty-eight naturally cycling women were recorded during the menstrual, late follicular (high fertility), and luteal phases while leaving voice messages to masculinized and femininized men and women. Results No cycle-related changes in pitch and pitch variability for the recordings directed to masculinized and femininized men and women were detected. By including relationship status as predictor in additional models, higher-order interaction effects showed that single and partnered women displayed opposite cycle-related pitch changes directed only to women, but not men. Conclusion The cycle-related voice changes found in the present study do not support the hypothesis that cyclic pitch variations represent an adaptive mechanism for attracting partners. We discuss cyclic changes in voice pitch in relation to intrasexual competition by taking into an account that the present study is likely underpowered for adequate testing of the complex higher-order interactions.
... Encoded information (Gangestad et al., 2002;Haselton et al., 2007) Voice pitch Correlates with the fertile phase. Encoded information and receivers' response (Pipitone & Gallup, 2008Pisanski et al., 2018 ...
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Olfactory communication plays an important role in the regulation of socio-sexual interactions in mammals. There is growing evidence that both human and nonhuman primates rely on odors to inform their mating decisions. Nevertheless, studies of primate chemical ecology remain scarce due to the difficulty of obtaining and analyzing samples. We analyzed 67 urine samples from five captive female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) and 30 vaginal swabs from three of these females using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and examined the relationship between odor (compounds identified, richness, intensity, and diversity) and female identity as well as cycle phase. We found a total of 36 urine compounds of which we identified 31, and 68 vaginal compounds of which we identified 37. Our results suggest that urine and vaginal odor varied more between individuals than within cycle phases. However, we found that within a female cycle, urine samples from similar phases may cluster more than samples from different phases. Our results suggest that female odor may encode information about identity (vaginal and urine odor) and reproductive status (urine odor). The question of how conspecifics use female urine and vaginal odor remains open and could be tested using bioassays. Our results and their interpretation are constrained by our limited sample size and our study design. Nonetheless, our study provides insight into the potential signaling role of female odor in sexual communication in Japanese macaques and contributes to our understanding of how odors may influence mating strategies in primates.
... Studies show that women are evaluated as more attractive precisely during the fertility peak (Roberts et al., 2004). Men score women's facial appearance as better (Roberts et al., 2004;Puts et al., 2013) and the same goes for their vocal pitch (Pipitone and Gallup Jr., 2008;Puts et al., 2013), and body scent (Singh and Bronstad, 2001;Gildersleeve et al., 2012). As psychological traits can also be attractive, these kinds of signals should be manifested by women as well. ...
Article
Full-text available
The signaling theory suggests that creativity may have evolved as a signal for mates. Indeed, its aesthetic value might not have been necessary for survival, but it could have helped to attract a mate, fostering childbearing. If we consider creativity as such a signal, we should expect it will be enhanced in the context related to sexual selection. This hypothesis was tested mainly for men. However, both men and women display physical and mental traits that can attract a mate. Previous studies showed that women can be more creative during their peak fertility. We advanced these findings in the present study, applying reliable measures of menstrual cycle phases (examining saliva and urine samples) and the highly recommended within-subject design. We also introduced and tested possible mediators of the effect. We found women's ideas to be more original during ovulation compared to non-fertile phases of the ovulatory cycle. The results are discussed in the context of signaling theory and alternative explanations are considered.
... Despite the relatively hidden nature of human estrus, near ovulation, women have been found to smell (Gildersleeve et al., 2012), look (Oberzaucher et al., 2012) and sound more attractive (Karthikeyan & Locke, 2015;Pipitone & Gallup, 2008). Women have also been found to be more receptive to men's advances near ovulation, agreeing to dance with unknown male confederates (Guéguen, 2009a) and giving their phone numbers out to them (Guéguen, 2009b) at higher rates. ...
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Does the ovulatory cycle play a role in women's allure to and receptivity towards men in a competitive dating scenario? We analyzed speed‐dates (Nobservations = 853 for men's attraction to women; Nobservations = 850 for women's attraction to men) involving 100 normally ovulating women and 132 men. We failed to document a competitive advantage of conception risk (or disadvantage of menstruation). Conception risk also did not predict women's ratings of men's desirability or attractiveness. However, women at a greater conception risk were marginally more likely to offer men second dates. We conclude that while the roles of conception risk or menstruation on women's allure are likely to be small and inconsequential in the context of intersexual selection, marginal effects on women's receptivity to men should be further explored.
... Alongside other aspects such as increased sexual motivation when fertile that might indicate an oestrus-like phase (Arslan, Schilling et al., 2018;Jones et al., 2018;Roney & Simmons, 2013), it appears that women's attractiveness increases around ovulation as a possible cue to fertility (Haselton & Gildersleeve, 2011). Some studies find that various aspects of attractiveness change along with cyclical hormonal fluctuations, including body scent (Gildersleeve et al., 2012;Singh & Bronstad, 2001), vocal pitch (Pipitone & Gallup, 2008;Puts et al., 2013) and facial attractiveness (Puts et al., 2013;Roberts et al., 2004). While studies largely report that men rate women's attractiveness as higher around ovulation (Bobst & Lobmaier, 2012;Haselton & Gildersleeve, 2011;Roberts et al., 2004;Schwarz & Hassebrauck, 2008), it remains unclear whether women's self-perceived attractiveness follows the same pattern. ...
Article
Full-text available
How attractive we find ourselves decides who we target as potential partners and influences our reproductive fitness. Self-perceptions on women’s fertile days could be particularly important. However, results on how self-perceived attractiveness changes across women’s ovulatory cycles are inconsistent and research has seldomly assessed multiple attractiveness-related constructs simultaneously. Here, we give an overview of ovulatory cycle shifts in self-perceived attractiveness, sexual desirability, grooming, self-esteem and positive mood. We addressed previous methodological shortcomings by conducting a large, preregistered online diary study of 872 women (580 naturally cycling) across 70 consecutive days, applying several robustness analyses, and comparing naturally cycling women to women using hormonal contraceptives. As expected, we found robust evidence for ovulatory increases in self-perceived attractiveness and sexual desirability in naturally cycling women. Unexpectedly, we found moderately robust evidence for smaller ovulatory increases in self-esteem and positive mood. Although grooming showed an ovulatory increase descriptively, the effect was small, failed to reach our strict significance level of .01 and was not robust to model variations. We discuss how these results could follow an ovulatory increase in sexual motivation while calling for more theoretical and causally informative research to uncover the nature of ovulatory cycle shifts in the future.
... A highly attractive voice can lead to positive experiences and make people tend to approach the speaker of the voice. Vocal attractiveness was demonstrated to be a predictor of many traits, such as body configuration (Evans, Neave & Wakelin, 2006;Hughes, Dispenza, & Gallup, 2004), health condition (Vukovic, Feinberg, DeBruine, Smith, & Jones, 2010), hormone level (Dabbs & Mallinger, 1999;Evans, Neave, Wakelin, & Hamilton,, 2008), and fertility (Bryant & Haselton, 2008;Pipitone & Gallup, 2008). Thus, vocal attractiveness plays a crucial role in mate selection (Puts, Doll, & Hill, 2014) and is regarded as an important indicator to explore the evolutionary behavior of humans. ...
Article
People evaluated their own voices as sounding more attractive than others rated their voices (i.e., self‐enhancement effect from the perspective of the rater, termed “SE_rater”), and people also rated their own voices as more attractive than the voices of others (i.e., self‐enhancement effect from the perspective of the voice, termed “SE_voice”). The aim of the present study is to explore whether the gender context (i.e., same‐sex and opposite‐sex rating context) could influence the SE effect of voice attractiveness evaluation. Male and female participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of their own voices and other participants' voices, either in a same‐sex session or an opposite‐sex session. The results demonstrated both the SE_rater and SE_voice effect in the same‐sex and opposite‐sex contexts, for both male and female. More importantly, we found that the SE_rater for the male voices was significantly greater than that for the female voices in the same‐sex context whereas no such difference was found in the opposite‐sex context. In addition, the SE_voice effect in men was larger in the same‐sex context than that in the opposite‐sex context whereas the SE_voice in women was smaller in the same‐sex context than that in the opposite‐sex context. These findings indicated that the self‐enhancement effect of vocal attractiveness was modulated by the gender context.
... More recently, studies have addressed the perception of social-pragmatic distinctions conveyed by the tone of voice (Caballero et al., 2018;Cheang & Pell, 2008;Hellbernd & Sammler, 2016;Jiang & Pell, 2017;Mitchell & Ross, 2013;Truesdale & Pell, 2018;Wichmann, 2000). Research shows that listeners can decode speaker intentions (Blackford et al., 2012;Sakkalou & Gattis, 2012) and individual characteristics (Linville, 1996;Munro et al., 2010;Pipitone & Gallup, 2008) from vocal expressions in relation to contextual variables. Acoustic patterns conveying speaker stance have been described, such as the vocal expression of confidence, passionate speech, politeness, and others (Caballero et al., 2018;Hellbernd & Sammler, 2016;Jiang & Pell, 2017;Truesdale & Pell, 2018). ...
Article
Information in the tone of voice alters social impressions of a speaker and underlying brain activity as listeners evaluate the interpersonal relevance of an utterance. Here, we presented basic requests that expressed politeness distinctions through the speaker’s voice (polite/rude) and the use of explicit linguistic markers (half of the requests began with Please). Thirty participants performed a social perception task (rating friendliness) while their electroencephalogram was recorded. Behaviorally, vocal politeness strategies had a much stronger influence on the perceived friendliness of the speaker than the use of Please. Analysis of event-related potentials from stimulus onset revealed rapid effects of (im)polite voices on cortical brain activity prior to ~300ms; irrespective of whether speakers said Please, P200 amplitudes increased for polite versus rude voices, suggesting that the speaker’s polite stance was registered as more salient in our task. At later stages of meaning elaboration, politeness distinctions encoded by the speaker’s voice and their use of Please interacted, modulating activity in the N400 (300-500ms) and late positivity (600-800ms) time windows. Patterns of results suggest that initial attention deployment to politeness cues is rapidly influenced by the motivational significance of a speaker’s voice. At later stages, processes for integrating vocal and lexical information resulted in increased cognitive effort to reevaluate utterances with ambiguous or contradictory cues about speaker politeness. The potential influence of social anxiety on the P200 effect is also discussed.
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Understanding how human mating psychology is affected by changes in female cyclic fertility is informative for comprehending the evolution of human reproductive behavior. Based on differential selection pressures between the sexes, men are assumed to have evolved adaptations to notice women's within-cycle cues to fertility and show corresponding mate retention tactics to secure access to their female partners when fertile. However, previous studies suffered from methodological shortcomings and yielded inconsistent results. In a large, preregistered online dyadic diary study (384 heterosexual couples), we found no compelling evidence that men notice women's fertility status (as potentially reflected in women's attractiveness, sexual desire, or wish for contact with others) or display mid-cycle increases in mate retention tactics (jealousy, attention, wish for contact or sexual desire towards female partners). These results extend our current understanding of the evolution of women's concealed ovulation and oestrus, and suggest that both might have evolved independently.
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Unlike the use of metaphors drawn from other sensory modalities (e.g., "cold turkey," "hard times," "rough draft"), there appears to be a peculiar predisposition in English to use visual terms as metaphors to describe or capture mental events (e.g., "a dim wit," "as illustrated by," "a flash of genius," "picture the following," "reflect on that," "see what I mean," "a brilliant scholar," "shed some light," "bright idea," "a clear explanation "). We contend that this visual/mental metaphorical bias may be a by-product of our primate/arboreal heritage, which put a premium on vision, and we present preliminary evidence that a comparable tendency to describe mental states using visual metaphors may be present in other contemporary and ancient languages as well.
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Low fluctuating asymmetry (FA, a measure of deviation from bilateral symmetry) appears to be a phenotypic marker of reproductive viability and health. In the present study, we investigated whether ratings of voice attractiveness were correlated with variations in FA. Several bilateral traits were measured to calculate a FA index and independent raters who did not know and never saw the subjects assessed the attractiveness of recordings of each subject's voice. Voices of subjects with greater bilateral symmetry were rated as more attractive by members of both sexes than those with asymmetrical traits.
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Evidence is presented showing that body fat distribution as measured by waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is correlated with youthfulness, reproductive endocrinologic status, and long-term health risk in women. Three studies show that men judge women with low WHR as attractive. Study 1 documents that minor changes in WHRs of Miss America winners and Playboy playmates have occurred over the past 30-60 years. Study 2 shows that college-age men find female figures with low WHR more attractive, healthier, and of greater reproductive value than figures with a higher WHR. In Study 3, 25- to 85-year-old men were found to prefer female figures with lower WHR and assign them higher ratings of attractiveness and reproductive potential. It is suggested that WHR represents an important bodily feature associated with physical attractiveness as well as with health and reproductive potential. A hypothesis is proposed to explain how WHR influences female attractiveness and its role in mate selection.
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Reviews Patterns of Sexual Behavior (see record 1951-07882-000) by C. S. Ford and F. A. Beach. The reviewer notes that this book presents sex in cultural and evolutionary perspective. In one brief volume, the authors have summarized the major facts of mammalian sexual behavior, have laid the groundwork for future scientific studies and theories of sexual behavior, and have spelled out what the layman ought to know about sex. The main scientific problem that Ford and Beach face is to determine which aspects of man's sexual behavior are the product of experience and training and which are determined by his physiological makeup. To accomplish this end, the authors evaluate sexual behavior in American society from the cross-cultural and comparative or evolutionary points of view. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Men's vocal folds and vocal tracts are longer than those of women, resulting in lower fundamental frequency (F0) and closer spacing of formant frequencies (formant dispersion, Df) in men than in women. The evolutionary reasons for these sex differences are uncertain, but some evidence implicates male dominance competition. Previous manipulations of F0 and Df affected perceptions of dominance among men. However, because these acoustic dimensions were manipulated simultaneously, their relative contributions are unclear. In unscripted recordings of men speaking to a competitor, we manipulated F0 and Df independently and by similar perceptual amounts to examine effects on social and physical dominance ratings. Recordings lowered in either F0 or Df were perceived as being produced by more dominant men than were the respective raised recordings. Df had a greater effect than did F0, and both Df and F0 tended to affect physical dominance more than social dominance, although this difference was significant only for Df.
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This study sought to objectively determine whether changes in voice accompany biological and/or hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Dynamic vocal exploration (DVE) and vocal cord smears were performed on each of the 38 women during the ovulation phase and the premenstrual phase for two consecutive cycles, offering four samples each. Each subject's singing was videotaped and a DVE was performed. DVE offers three kinds of data, all synchronized: acoustic, visual, and glottographic. Cytological smears of vocal cord epithelium were collected through the operating channel of a fibroscope with a micro-brush. We found significant similarity between laryngeal and cervical smears in nine cases. Recently, estrogen target cells were identified in the larynx. Estrogen/progesterone level alterations cause laryngeal water retention, edema of the interstitial tissue, and venous dilatation. Of 38 women, 22 had vocal premenstrual syndromes, presenting with a hoarse voice and voice fatigue. All of the 22 had luteal insufficiency confirmed by smear. Sixteen women did not have any particular voice change at the premenstrual phase; two of them had a luteal insufficiency, and 14 had normal hormonal levels.
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