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9 Reasons to Get a Deeper Voice

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The world is full of people trying to look as good as they can, but when it comes to sounding good people become strangely bashful. They describe their voices with contempt and avoid recordings of themselves for years like some strange creature, afraid of its own reflection.

This seems to be driven by an idea that your voice is ‘all in your head’: if you don’t care about how you sound then no one else will. Well, I wanted to write a series of posts to show you how this simply isn’t true. Even something as basic as your spoken pitch can have a profound impact on the way you influence others. And by ignoring this fact, you’re really missing out…

1. Women are more attracted to men with deep voices – and this attraction is strongest among prettier, more feminine women. In fact, women prefer a masculine voice more strongly and more unanimously to a masculine face. This might lead you to think you should be the next Barry White, but a recent study found that the most attractive male voices were the ones around 96Hz (that’s deeper than average, but not incredibly so.) Once this average pitch fell into the 80s, women preferred a higher voice.

deep-voice-celebrities

Barack Obama, Alec Baldwin, Jason Momoa, Patrick Stewart, Morgan Freeman and Gerard Butler all speak with a median pitch of ~96 Hz

2. Deep-voiced men are rated as being significantly more dominant, both physically and socially, to men with higher voices – and men who believe themselves to be more dominant subconsciously lower their tone when faced with competition.

darth-vader-with-luke

This is probably why powerful characters such as Darth Vader or Smaug are traditionally given very deep voices. They’re supposed to intimidate on a very primal level, and a low pitch and low variance is the best recipe for that.

3. In fact, owners of a deep voice get better ratings for all kinds of qualities. A 2012 study on electoral success found they were considered more intelligent, more trustworthy, more confident, more likable, healthier, and of a higher social status than high-pitched men.

4. People prefer voting for politicians with deep voices, especially during wartime. Most famously, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher underwent vocal coaching to lower her voice by a whopping 46Hz, more than half the difference between male and female voices.

5. CEOs with deeper voices tend to run larger companies, make more money and keep their jobs for longer. From a sample of 792 CEOs, a 1% decrease in voice pitch was found to be worth $19,000 in CEO pay and $30 million in the size of company managed. And the CEOs at ‘the deep end’ earned $187,000 more on average and ran companies that were $440 million bigger.

Tesla’s Elon Musk has a median pitch of ~90 Hz, about 30 Hz lower than the average man.
6. Men with deeper voices report more sexual partners and start having sex at a younger age. A study in Tanzania even found that the deeper-voiced tribesmen fathered more children, despite the fact that a naturally lower voice has been linked with a lower sperm count.

tanzanian tribe

The Hadza tribe of hunter-gatherers

7. Lowering the pitch of your voice makes you feel more powerful. Much in the same way that certain ‘power poses’ boost confidence and reduce anxiety, researchers found that “participants who lowered their voice pitch perceived themselves as possessing more powerful traits”. They also found that they gained, in their own words, “a higher level of abstract thinking”, which is associated with people in high power positions.

obama-power-pose
8. Lowering your pitch also makes you more persuasive and influential. This finding came from an experiment in which groups of people were asked to discuss which objects would be most useful after a crash landing on the Moon. Speakers whose voices deepened during the discussion were more likely to convince others to support their ideas and more likely to be rated as of a high social status. And this was independent of their average voice pitch – even guys with high voices had the same benefit.
9. Women retain information better when listening to a man with a deep voice. Unfortunately, this study was not done with male listeners, so we can’t really tell whether this is because of the attractiveness or the authority of deep voices.

It’s not all good news for the low-toned though. A deep voice also carries connotations of promiscuity and selfishness within relationships. So, while they’re seen as generally more trustworthy, this gets reversed in a romantic context.

james-bond-eyebrow

It’s also worth saying that, for male voices, the most attractive feature was not depth. A recent study found that the greatest predictor of vocal attractiveness by a long, long way was a thing called H1-A2 (which roughly corresponds to how ‘breathy’ a voice is). And this was so important that a high-pitched, breathy voice was found to be more attractive than a deep, non-breathy one. We’re currently working on adding this to Vocular.

Finally, I have to add that it’s not worth getting bogged down in this. Yes, every point here comes from peer-reviewed academic studies, but it’s clearly not the only thing that matters. Bill Clinton and David Cameron both have high-pitched voices, but this never stopped them from being elected as leaders of their countries. If nobody believes a single thing you say, maybe it’s not your voice that’s the problem. Maybe you’re just talking crap.

But, if you want to take advantage of these facts, here’s a post I wrote on how to get a deeper voice

6 Comments

  1. Ignis

    Hey mate,are you sure the average male pitch is 120 Hz?
    Its just I can’t find any research on net saying its 120 Hz.I mean,its 120 Hz in my science textbook.
    The average pitch is 110 Hz in this research.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3293852/

    1. Vocular

      Hey Ignis, yeah, I take that figure from a number of papers that give the average pitch of the male participants in experiments. It might be skewed somewhat by the fact that younger men tend to participate in these experiments, but the guys who download this app tend to be fairly young so in a way it’s more specific.

      1. Ignis

        Hey,Thanks for the reply.
        Sorry, I didn’t get it. Younger men participated in this specific experiment that’s why they got a lower average(110Hz)?
        Does that mean as we age our voices get higher?
        Also off topic,How deep is your voice rn?Did it stabilise?Are you doing any exercises these days?
        What’d you think would happen after not doing the exercises(neck) for a while? Will it get higher pitched again?
        I’m kinda curious bout this topic since we have been studying larynx in my science class and they say its size can’t be changed.

        1. Vocular

          Sorry, I didn’t get it. Younger men participated in this specific experiment that’s why they got a lower average(110Hz)?

          Oh, no, I didn’t realise you’d linked to a paper (weirdly that’s the first one I ever read). I was just saying that I took the average 120Hz from a bunch of papers, like an average of their averages. I have them all in a file so I can pick them out if you want? They all have quite low participant numbers though, so it’s not surprising that the average wavers a lot. The Re et al 2012 paper had 32 participants, so I could see how that might not be representative of young men in general.

          Does that mean as we age our voices get higher?

          I think they tend to get lower actually, although not by much (5-6 Hz). I’m not sure how much of that is down to people doing things like smoking which unnaturally deepens the voice. But I haven’t seen a big study of average voice pitches by age, so I can’t say for sure.

          Also off topic,How deep is your voice rn?Did it stabilise?Are you doing any exercises these days?

          I’ve actually just got back into doing the neck exercises recently. I had a shoulder injury for parts of the summer, so I stopped doing them for a while and, having housemates, I’d often forget to do them at night or have a few beers then go straight to bed. I’ve probably been doing the routine seriously for three weeks now though. I can hear that my voice is definitely deeper, although I’m not sure of the exact figure (it’s 9AM here at the moment so I’ll take a reading in the afternoon and let you know).

          My voice never exactly stabilised though. It got deeper and less changeable, as you can see in the graph on the homepage – but I never felt like there was a point when I didn’t have to do the exercises anymore. And it went back to normal when I injured my neck and had to stop for a few months. Now that I’m doing the exercises again, my voice seems to be deepening more quickly though – another guy who writes to me has noticed the same thing in himself.

          I’m kinda curious bout this topic since we have been studying larynx in my science class and they say its size can’t be changed.

          That may well be true but, like I say in the Q&A, the depth of your voice comes from the size of your vocal chords and their tension. It’s literally just like a guitar string. This is why your voice is deeper when you have a cold – your larynx doesn’t change (to my knowledge), but your vocal chords become swollen and get bigger. It’s also why your voice is higher when you’re dehydrated – that lack of water literally shrinks them. My theory with the neck exercises is that they somehow allow your neck muscles to relax, which removes tension from the vocal chords. Not sure how physiologically valid this is, but I don’t have a better explanation and it’s what Morgan Freeman says too…

          There’s this muscle called thyroartenoid muscle that lowers the pitch by relaxing the vocal cords.
          So wouldn’t doing exercises that specifically make them stronger have a larger effect on voice?

          Uhh, maybe? I don’t really know. I didn’t think the neck exercises would work until I tried them out. I’ve kinda been experimenting on myself and seeing what happens…

  2. Ignis

    There’s this muscle called thyroartenoid muscle that lowers the pitch by relaxing the vocal cords.
    So wouldn’t doing exercises that specifically make them stronger have a larger effect on voice?
    I mean it can cause muscular imbalance too or it might be just impossible to work it out bc of it being interiorly situated.

    Sorry, Kinda found out this site through your app yesterday.I don’t have any issues with my voice(I’m at 103Hz) but getting it deeper won’t harm lol tho the topics itself makes me much more interested.

  3. Ignis

    Hey,Thanks for the reply btw.
    I didn’t get it tho. You mean bc of the younger folks in that stuff, the average got so low(110Hz)?

    Are you doing the exercises these days?How deep is your voice now?
    Did your voice get stabilised now?Like no more increment or decrement?

    What do your think would happen if you stopped doing the exercises for a while?Increased pitch or remains same?

    Soz for the many q,but thought since you have already experimented we can gain valuable data.

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