When it comes to the language of love, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
People make subtle changes in their voices when they speak to people they find attractive, say scientists.
And these voice modulations make the speaker more attractive to the listener too, the research by Scotland’s University of Stirling found.
In the study of 110 heterosexual men and women, who were either English or Czech, male speakers of both languages varied their tone more when they spoke to women they found attractive, speaking in a ‘sing-song’ voice, similar to actor Leslie Phillips.
The men also reached a lower minimum voice pitch, or ‘deep voice’, compared with when they spoke to women they considered less attractive.
Luckily for them, female listeners found that style of speech more attractive too.
Lead researcher Juan David Leongómez said it is important for men to sound masculine, but that extreme masculinity can be associated with negative traits.
He said: ‘Previous research has shown that humans signal their romantic interest in several different ways, including non-verbal behaviours and body language, like eye contact and casual touching,- for example playfully touching someone’s hair.
‘Our study shows that people also modulate their voices to signal romantic interest and that this, in turn, seems to make the speaker seem more attractive.
‘For men, it is important to sound masculine, which is manifested in a deeper voice pitch. However, extreme masculinity is associated with negative traits in a partner, like a tendency for increased aggressiveness and promiscuity.
‘This puts men in a dilemma, because they have to convey two seemingly contradictory messages at the same time: “I am a masculine man”, and “I’d be a good partner and father”.
‘The solution may be to vary their pitch – which would explain the sing-songy quality of the voices we observed in men speaking to attractive women.’
The researchers’ findings also showed that by-standers respond to these subtle differences too. When the voice recording of a man speaking to an attractive woman was played to female listeners, the listeners found the voice more attractive than a recording of the same man speaking to a less attractive woman.
The men whose voices were recorded were Czech and the bystanding female listeners were British - so the experiment was designed to ensure the women did not understand the words being spoken.
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