December 04, 2008
Nursing Women More Attracted To Higher Pitch Male Voices

Harvard University anthropologist Coren Apicella finds that nursing women prefer men whose voices have higher pitched tones. The non-nursing women looking for mating material prefer deeper voices.

When she started analysing the data, Apicella realized that about half the women she tested had been nursing children. When she divided women by this characteristic, a trend emerged. Nursing women favoured higher-pitched tones, while fertile women showed a slight preference for the deeper voices.

When Hadza women start breast-feeding, their foraging falls off. "They rely on men a lot more to bring in food and resources," says Apicalla. "Maybe a higher-pitched voice is signalling pro-social behaviour."

This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. The men with deeper voices are probably more masculine and less likely to help raise the kids. Women seek to mate with men who are more masculine. But then to raise the kids they look for men who have a stronger feminine side. I bet that men who help women raise children of other men are less masculine on average than the men who got the women pregnant.

Previous research would lead one to expect this result. Women who ovulate are most attracted to men outside their relationship at the time when they are ovulating.

Normally ovulating women have been found to report greater sexual attraction to men other than their own partners when near ovulation relative to the luteal phase. One interpretation is that women possess adaptations to be attracted to men possessing (ancestral) markers of genetic fitness when near ovulation, which implies that women's interests should depend on qualities of her partner. In a sample of 54 couples, we found that women whose partners had high developmental instability (high fluctuating asymmetry) had greater attraction to men other than their partners, and less attraction to their own partners, when fertile.

At the same time men are attracted to the voices of women who are most fertile.

A woman's voice becomes more attractive when she is most fertile. That's according to Nathan Pipitone and Gordon Gallup of the State University of New York at Albany.

The pair recorded women counting from 1 to 10 at four occasions during their menstrual cycle. They then replayed the recordings at random to male and female students and asked them to rate the attractiveness of the voices. Both males and females judged the women's voices to be most attractive if they were recorded during the peak fertility period of the menstrual cycle, and less attractive if they were recorded during non-fertile periods (Evolution and Human Behavior, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.02.001).

We are wired up by our evolutionary history to follow genetic programs for mating.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 December 04 12:27 AM  Brain Sexuality

Mark Maps said at December 5, 2008 9:02 AM:

Perhaps the attraction to higher pitched voice is simply a side-effect of the bonding function involved in breast-feeding an infant child, whose voice would be much higher pitched than an adults.

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