A strong male voice denotes dominance

Washington, May 29 (IANS) Men with a deep, masculine voice are seen as more dominant by other men, says a new study.

But a man’s own dominance – perceived or actual – does not affect how attentive he is to his rivals’ voices.

His own dominance does however influence how he rates his competitors’ dominance: the more dominant he thinks he is, the less dominant he rates his rival’s voice.

These are the findings of the research conducted by Sarah Wolff and David Puts, anthropologists at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU).

Specifically, the authors investigated for the first time whether men’s own dominance affects their attentiveness to vocal masculinity, a dominance signal, when they assess their competitors.

They carried out two studies asking men to rate male vocal recordings which differed in level of masculinity i.e. from low, more masculine voices to higher, less masculine voices.

The first study looked at how participants rated others’ dominance in relation to their self-rated physical dominance in a dating game scenario, based on their competitor’s voice recordings.

As predicted, more masculine voices were perceived as more dominant. On the whole, men who rated themselves higher in fighting ability, i.e. more dominant, rated other men lower on dominance and reported more sexual partners in the past year.

However, men’s self-rated physical dominance was not linked to how attentive they were to vocal masculinity when assessing other men’s dominance.

The second study examined how objective measures of men’s physical dominance including size, strength, testosterone levels and physical aggressiveness influenced dominance ratings, said a PSU release.

Of these, only testosterone had an effect. Men with either high or low levels perceived other men as more dominant, based on their voice recordings, whereas men with intermediate testosterone levels rated other men lower in dominance.

These findings are published online in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.