Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the lower your voice...

National Public Radio reported last week--in one of its most-emailed stories--that anthropologists have a new study on how our voices affect our attractiveness to potential mates. It's an intriguing study for the woman speaker to consider, as the women studied (among the Hazda people in Tanzania) preferred men with lower-pitched voices. The story notes:
And what did Hadza men prefer in a voice? It turns out they found the women with higher pitch most attractive.

But surprisingly, the men said those same women wouldn't necessarily be the best food gatherers. "We found that the men actually thought the women with the lower-pitched voice or the deeper voices were the better gatherers," [researcher Coren]Apicella said.
Apicella's quick to note that it's not clear that these results translate to all cultures. But in our experience, this is a particular issue for American women, and young women, when they speak in public. A high-pitched voice connotes youth and inexperience; a lower pitch, authority and assurance. (We coached one young American woman to deliver a major speech in Chinese, a language in which she is fluent, and noticed her speaking voice lowered considerably during the formal deliver--and went much higher and faster when speaking casually. Asked why, she explained she and her young Chinese friends spoke fast and high-pitched when hanging out, but slowed, formalized and lowered their pitch when speaking in formal settings.) What do you do? and what do you find more effective when speaking in groups? Which sounds more eloquent to your ear?