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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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